Tributes have been paid to a young arborist whose hand was severed in an ax attack.
The family of Cameron Brooksbank have told of the “painful emptiness” they are suffering after the loss of the young man from new BBC series The Detectives.
Cameron appeared in the BBC Two police documentary describing his ordeal at the hands of a crime gang in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
After a horrific attack in 2017 when he was 17, his hand had to be surgically reattached.
Cameron’s distraught family have now spoken about their ordeal while praising his “bravery” after his death was announced.
A statement from Greater Manchester Police said: “This has been the most horrific time for our family.”
“But we are just one of many supported by GMP who are constantly being destroyed by these cruel, merciless drug gangs.”
Police officers are paying tribute to him after confirming his recent death, which they do not consider suspicious.
“The Detectives” follows GMP’s efforts to take down an organized crime group called “The Adam.”
The gang, based at the Newbold Estate in Rochdale, were involved in the incident which left Cameron with life-changing injuries in October 2017.
He and four colleagues were attacked after intervening in a traffic dispute while trying to help a member of the public.
In a later trial, it was revealed that Adams OCG member Habibur Rahman felt “disrespected” before assembling a mob of about 20 men.
They included Mohammed Awais Sajid – also known as “Skinny” – who swung an ax at Cameron, who was using his arm to try to block a blow to his head.
The victim had his hand reattached in a life-saving operation but required five further operations over the following two years, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
Sajid was put behind bars for 18 years after being found guilty of Section 18 assault.
Rahman was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for assault after the jury was told he hit another arborist in the face with brass knuckles, breaking his nose.
Cameron’s family welcomed the way the new BBC show allows people to “see first-hand how these members proactively involve children in drug abuse and debt to turn them into modern-day slaves”.
They also praised “the courage of the officers who put their lives at risk.”
And the family welcomed people’s “tenderness” towards Cameron.
We are very proud of Cameron’s bravery
Cameron Brooksbank’s family
They said: “We would also like to thank the public for all their many kind words and praise for our special son and grandson Cameron, whose death has left such a huge and painful gap in our lives.”
They told how both the police and the program makers had “carried us through this tragic and frightening journey”.
The family concluded: “Thank you for everything and the support you continue to give us during this difficult time.”
“We are extremely proud of Cameron’s bravery and that his personal story will hopefully help raise much-needed awareness of this issue.”
There were further online tributes, with one local website saying his loss had “sent shockwaves through the Rochdale community”.
It said: “Cameron Brooksbank held a special place in the hearts of Rochdale residents as he was deeply connected to the town’s history and a steadfast champion of its people.”
“Cameron’s remarkable courage was demonstrated when he triumphed over a traumatic attack in 2017.
“Through sheer determination, he not only achieved a remarkable recovery, but also became a beacon of inspiration to his fellow Rochdale residents.”
In the BBC series, Cameron describes the attack saying: “The first hit was on my left side, just under my armpit – it went in so far that he had to pull it back out.”
“I felt something warm and wet – when I turned around I saw the ax was here and I raised my arm.”
“The ax went through my wrist and then shattered my bone.
“I remember absolutely every single second of that day.”
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He also recounted the devastating impact, adding: “I’m not the same person I was two years ago and I don’t think I ever will be.”
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans free on 116123.