Minutes before, Mitchell had been waving to mourners lining Glebe Point and St John’s roads while they tossed proteas, daisies and gladioli onto the roof of the hearse. The crowd, struggling for some way to mark its appreciation of the 28-year-old officer, broke into applause.

Then the three-year-old was handed the memento of his dad by a funeral assistant who reached into the car and tousled his hair.

His mother, Jackie, clutched him under one arm, and 15-month-old Brodie Rose under the other, as they caught a moment alone to remember the husband and father killed a week ago in a senseless stabbing at Ultimo, and the extraordinary public mourning his death roused.

There were many in tears, or fighting them back, among the NSW and Queensland police honour guard flanking the Forsyths. Locals wept openly beside them. Relatives in cars behind clutched their mouths with grief.

Constable Peter Justin Forsyth was farewelled by family, colleagues, friends and dignitaries yesterday in a funeral service with full police honours at St Mary’s Cathedral. It was attended by 2,600 inside and 500 outside.

In their ranks was Probationary Constable Jason Semple, 25, stabbed in the stomach during Friday’s fatal assault, who arrived in a wheelchair but walked with help up the cathedral steps.

Constable Brian Neville, who escaped injury and chased the youths allegedly responsible for the attack outside the Ultimo Community Centre, acted as a pallbearer for his dead mate.

More than 1,500 police officers attended from across the country and New Zealand. So, too, did the paramedics who attended to him.

His colleague, Constable Shane Forsyth (no relation), told mourners: “Memories of Pete will live forever. I only wish that I had known him for a longer time. A lot was fitted into a life that was so short.”

And to the Forsyth children: “Mitchell and Brodie, you will always know your Big Bear. The memories of him will never die.”

The Police Commissioner, Mr Ryan, delivered a valediction to the “well-liked lad“, born in Goondiwindi, Queensland, in 1969, and who joined the Police Academy in Goulburn in 1994.

Peter was a brave man,” Mr Ryan said. Constable Forsyth was awarded a regional commander’s citation in 1996, while still on probation, for his role in arresting an armed offender.

He was conscientious and proud to be a policeman. He had no hesitation, even while off duty, in tackling crime and criminals head on.”

The Premier, Mr Carr, Opposition Leader, Mr Collins, Police Minister, Mr Whelan, and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Sartor, also attended.

Eulogies by Constables Craig Elliot and Guy Flaherty, colleagues and friends from the Leichhardt local area command, revealed Constable Forsyth as a cheerful, mischievous young man.

Constable Flaherty recalled the day his mate was returning from the races by train with his mother, Joan, when he politely asked a crowd of rugby players to keep their language down.

Well, this bloke came over full as a boot, flipped the seat back and sat opposite Peter and his mum,” Constable Flaherty said.

“He said `Is this your mum?‘ Pete said, `yeah‘. He said, `Ya know, your son has just stood up and told a heap of blokes to shut up just for you. You must be so proud of him to be that loyal‘.”

Constable Forsyth‘s widow, comforted by the Dean of the cathedral, Father Anthony Doherty, wept as Constable Flaherty finished his address.

“Peter used to say to me there are bad men and then there’s us. He was a policeman who would serve the community for which he was part of, keen to help and do the right thing.

“He offered safety, security to his community, love and loyalty to his family as well as to his friends. He will be missed by all. My mate, our mate, is gone.”

Local residents confirmed Constable Flaherty‘s words. Many had met him through his policing duties or his work with the police community and youth club. Forty Glebe High School students, each grasping a white rose, also waited to say goodbye.

One of the mourners, Ms Fran Campisi, cried as she recalled how the young constable helped her during a prolonged domestic dispute.

He used to ring me up to see if I was OK,” she said. “The day before he died he rang me to see if I was still being harassed. It’s just devastating; he was so lovely, so caring and so sincere.”

At Glebe police station the counter was lined with cards and flowers and the public had left more than $500. Donations to the Peter Forsyth Memorial Fund may be made at any NSW or ACT Commonwealth Bank branch.

Constable Forsyth will be buried in Toowoomba, Queensland, on Monday.