Police officer who put Lancaster rapist behind bars loses cancer battle

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Gilbert has lost his battle with a brain tumour aged 46. He is survived by his wife Sarah and their daughters Eve, 12, Grace, nine, and Alice, seven
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Gilbert has lost his battle with a brain tumour aged 46. He is survived by his wife Sarah and their daughters Eve, 12, Grace, nine, and Alice, seven

A senior detective who helped bring a Lancaster rapist to justice has lost his battle with cancer.

Det Chief Insp Andy Gilbert, one of the most commended police officers in the history of Lancashire Police, was diagnosed with brain tumours last April.

The 46 year-old father was well known for his tenacity which led to rapist Mateusz Otfinowski, who attacked vulnerable women in Lancaster and Morecambe, being jailed.

Last April, Andy was out on his nightly six mile run when he collapsed.

He was discovered by passers by and taken to Blackburn Hospital where a routine head scan revealed a brain tumour.

Despite having gruelling operations and treatment, Andy came into work at Preston Police’s Operations Centre.

He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Sarah and their daughters Eve, 12, Grace, nine, and Alice, seven.

Speaking from their home in the Ribble Valley, Sarah, an intensive care nurse at the Royal Preston Hospital, and former lecturer at UCLan, described Andy as “amazing”.

She said: “I can’t express enough what a wonderful father and husband he is – selfless and humble.

“Everything he said was about positivity and being strong. He was not afraid to die – but what really crushed him is that he did not want to leave me and the girls.

“To see him being torn out of this world, wrenched from us, was unbearable.”

Andy, one of six children, grew up in Blakeley, Manchester.

He began his police career as a special constable with Greater Manchester Police in July 1993, and joined Lancashire Police in 1994.

He met Sarah in her dad’s pub in Accrington, across the road from the police station.

Andy worked on geographic patrols and the support unit before being promoted to Detective Inspector.

He worked at Preston CID before taking up a role in the force’s intelligence unit.

The detective also received three Chief Constable’s Commendations throughout his career.

Just before the father-of-three’s diagnosis, he worked tirelessly to bring a Blackpool toddler’s killer to justice.

Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Critchley, Divisional Commander HQ Crime, said: “Andy has been an outstanding police officer, and was tireless in his commitment to at all times providing outstanding quality of service to the public when they needed him most.

“This is evidenced by the fact he has been one of the most commended police officers in the history of the Constabulary.”