TRIBUTES have been paid to an award-winning police sergeant who lost his battle with cancer.

Sergeant Neil Costello’s colleagues paid their respects following his death yesterday.

Former chief superintendent Graham Bartlett tweeted: “So sad that @sussex_police have lost of their finest most inspirational cops after long battle. RIP Neil Costello, we r poorer without you.”

Chief Insp Simon Nelson said: “Sad loss of one of our finest to cancer today - top soldier became top copper and now at peace (with a beer no doubt.)”

Superintendent Jane Derrick said: “Sometimes you come to work and hear the worst news.”

Inspector Christopher Veale said: “Sad news today - we have lost 1 of our best cops after a long battle. RIP Neil Costello - Great guy and terrific PSU Sgt.”

Sgt Costello was commended in 2006 for his “professional and courageous actions” as one of 11 officers who risked personal attack to rescue a ten-month-old baby girl from her mother who had barricaded herself into her first floor flat and was hurling furniture, panes of glass and saucepans at the officers as they tried to gain entry.

He also received an award from the force for his hard work in 2002.