A POLICE staff member who played a crucial part in gathering evidence that resulted in a man being jailed for life for the murder of a Cranage woman has been commended by Cheshire’s top cop.

Steve Plant was commended by Cheshire’s new chief constable Simon Byrne in a ceremony on Wednesday, July 16.

He was praised for his part in helping to bring Hale resident David Ryan, 49, to justice in July 2013.

Steve was involved in the development of strategies for the investigation and it was his efforts to make highly technical and loaded information digestible for a judge and jury which helped ensure Ryan was convicted of Diana Lee’s brutal murder.

Diana ran a cattery from her home, Parklands, in the village.

Mr Justice Henriques sentenced Ryan to a 34-year jail term after a jury found him guilty of her murder.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “These awards are a terrific opportunity to recognise the hard work and dedication of our officers and staff.

“I was delighted to be in the company of these people for an evening of celebration, and feel proud of their commitment to the force and the people of Cheshire whom we serve.”

John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Police and Crime Commissioner Commendations are the highest awards given to police officers and staff for meritorious acts, apart from those awarded by the Queen.

“I was delighted to present the commendations to these officers, as it highlights the positive work they’ve done as well as showcasing their skills, commitment and professionalism.”

During the ceremony medals were also given to officers for good conduct and 20 years' service, while newly promoted sergeants were welcomed into their posts.

Thanks and farewells were given to retiring officers and staff, including former Chief Constable David Whatton, and a number of special awards and commendations were made too.