UK & World News

  • 8 January 2014, 17:13

PC David Rathband Took His Own Life - Coroner

The policeman shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat took his own life, a coroner has ruled.

Police Constable David Rathbandwas found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, in February 2012.

The 44-year-old was out on patrol when Moat, 37, shot his former partner Samantha Stobbart and killed her new boyfriend Chris Brown in July 2010. After a tense stand-off he was shot dead.

The inquest into Mr Rathband's death heard that his encounter with Moat was the "first step" in a series of events which led to the father-of-two's suicide.

He became a national hero after the incident and used his profile to establish the Blue Lamp Foundation to support 999 staff injured on duty. But MrRathbandbecame desperate after the breakdown of his marriage and struggled to cope with his disability.

Coroner Eric Armstrong said none of those involved in what happened should blame themselves.

In a statement read out by her lawyer after the hearing, his widow Kath said: "It has been an immensely difficult few years for us all. Now that the inquest has been concluded I would like to ask for privacy for Ashley, Mia and myself so we can look to rebuild our lives while remembering David and all that he meant to us."

During the hearing in Newcastle it was revealed Mr Rathband, who lived alone, had made threats to kill himself and told his lover - 7/7 survivor Lisa French - that he had attempted to hang himself but could not do it.

Ms French saw him on the day he died. Although his family were concerned for his welfare they did not consider him to be at immediate risk of suicide.

The three-day inquest was told Mr Rathband's wife had put up with his previous infidelity, but his affair with Ms French effectively ended their marriage. He moved out of the home they shared in August 2011.

Mrs Rathband told her husband their marriage was finished before he flew to Australia for a holiday with his identical twin brother Darren. While he was there Mr Rathbanddesperately tried to contact her, often calling up to 50 times a day.

The last time Mrs Rathbandsaw her husband alive was on the night he died - February 29. She said he looked "awful" and needed help. However, she thought she was not the right person to do that and contacted his sister Debbie Esseryand his welfare officer Inspector John Heckles.

Mrs Esserycontacted DC Brown via Facebook to raise her concerns. Later that evening, officers broke into Mr Rathband's home and found him hanging in the dark with music playing on his mobile.

Some of his friends and family believe the police could have done more before he died. Superintendent Jim Napier said that, because Mr Rathband had made suicide threats on previous occasions and his family had only raised their concerns via Facebook, he did not think there was an immediate threat to his life.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Esserysaid they would continue with Mr Rathband's legal action against NorthumbriaPolice.

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