A FATHER has paid tribute to his police officer son, who was killed in the line of duty 15 years ago.

PC Phillip Walters, who was just 28 when he died, was shot in the chest at point blank range after attending a call about a disturbance at an address in Empress Avenue, Ilford on April 18, 1995.

Colleague PC Derek Shepherd was also injured in the struggle and was later honoured for risking his life to restrain the suspect.

PC Walters' father, Colin Walters, 65, of Sackville Gardens, Ilford, said: "We're very proud of Phillip - he was doing the job he loved.

"It was just one of those unfortunate things that he lost his life doing it."

However, Mr Walters also expressed anger that his son's killer was released after serving just 12 years of an 18-year sentence, which included an eight-year term for robbery and firearms offences.

A man called Ray Lee, believed to be an alias, was convicted of the killing in June 1996 but was released three years ago and is thought to have been deported to his native Jamaica.

"He's definitely been released - that's all we know," Mr Walters said.

"We weren't at all happy - I don't think it's justice. He only got a 10-year sentence for manslaughter and we were appalled by that."

Mr Walters still maintains close contact with his son's former partner, now remarried and living in America.

Now retired, the devoted grandfather spends most of his time caring for his one-year-old grandchild, the son of daughter Laura, who was a teenager when her brother died.

Mr Walters said: "We're fine now - life goes on. I look after my grandson as my daughter and her husband both work."

A service is to take place at 11am on April 18 at the memorial stone laid in PC Walters' honour, near where he died.

Flowers will be laid at the site and a minute's silence will be held.