The distraught family of a soldier who died in Afghanistan last night paid tribute to him as "the most likeable person you could ever meet".
Lance Corporal Sean Tansey, who came from Sulgrave in Washington, was killed in an accident while he serviced a Scimitar tank at an Army base in the troubled Helmand province of Afghanistan on Saturday.
The 26-year-old, who had previously served in Iraq, was brought up by his grandparents John and Margaret Atherton and his death has left his large family, as well as partner Jodie Wells, distraught.
The family yesterday met Army representatives to find out more about how he died, with Ministry of Defence officials confirming that no insurgents were involved in the accident.
After that meeting, LCpl Tansey's uncle Barry Atherton - who considered him a brother - spoke of the family's pride in him.
"Sean was my brother and he was the best - whether it was because he was the most likeable person you could ever meet or because the Army made him that way.
"We're all very proud of him and to us it's a great loss. It's a great waste and we really do miss him so badly. It's a terrible shame. We're devastated," he said.
LCpl Tansey was serving in Afghanistan with the Household Cavalry, having joined the Army in 1999.
He was described by his commanding officer as "a bright and intelligent soldier, an extremely competent and utterly dependable operator".
LCpl Tansey, who was a pupil at Biddick School in Washington, was brought up with Mr Atherton and his siblings James, Julie, Janet, Michael and Margie, his birth mother, plus cousin Jonjo.
The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that the circumstances of his death were being investigated, but confirmed that it had been an accident rather than as a result of enemy activity. An MoD spokesman said the accident involved a British military vehicle "undergoing routine maintenance", adding: "The circumstances of the accident are going to be the subject of an investigation.
"Until that has taken place we won't release any more details but the family will have been given more detail about what happened." LCpl Tansey is the 12th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan in the last two months and the second from the North-East.
Private Damien Jackson, 19, from South Shields, was killed on July 5 as he tried to clear a helicopter landing site.