The police officer who was blasted twice by shotgun maniac Raoul Moat today told how he played dead and then summoned the strength to raise the alarm despite suffering devastating injuries.
Pc David Rathband, 43, recalled being shot as he sat in his marked T5 Volvo traffic car, and told Newcastle Crown Court he knew exactly who it was behind the barrel of the gun.
The father-of-two, wearing his police uniform for the first time in public since he was almost killed last July, told the jury: "I realised that it was Raoul Moat who had approached the car and I can remember saying to myself 'Oh f*** - it's him'."
Moat was wanted for shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and executing her new boyfriend Chris Brown the night before.
Pc Rathband, who loved his job as a traffic officer, was on the look-out for Moat, and had already come across him in March over an uninsured vehicle and was already wary of the steroid-abuser.
Moat, 37, sneaked up on the officer who was parked on a roundabout at the junction of the A1 and A69 west of Newcastle.
He blasted him once between the eyes, then again in the shoulder as the officer moved to raise the alarm.
The first shot was so loud inside the car that it felt like the noise was ripping his face, he told the court.
He felt a sharp pain between his eyes and above the bridge of his nose.
"I knew I had been hit in the face and I knew my right eye had gone," he said.
Another blast hit him on the left shoulder as he went to activate a mayday signal inside the car.
Pc Rathband said: "As I lay in the car, I realised I just had to lie there and literally play dead because it was quite clear Moat wanted me dead."
Pc Rathband believed Moat was trying to execute him with the second shot.
He had somehow raised his left arm to protect himself, despite not hearing Moat move to shoot again.
"He shot me in the middle of my eyes and the second shot was to finish me off," he told the jury.
"So I tried to stop myself breathing because I was making lots of rasping noises because of the amount of blood that was spraying out and that was going down my throat.
"It felt like a lifetime but in reality it was probably a few seconds."
Carrying a white stick, Pc David Rathband arrived at court with his wife Kath, 41, and 19-year-old son Ash.
Mrs Rathband held him close as they walked in, then watched from the packed public gallery as he spoke in a clear, strong voice to the jury.
He faltered just once, when recalling the blast which robbed him of his sight, but carried on without needing a break, saying: "I'm OK."
Scars from the shotgun pellets were still visible on his face.
Bleeding heavily after the second shot, he still managed to raise the alarm using a microphone on the gear stick of his patrol car.
"I said 'I've been shot, I need urgent assistance'," he recalled.
Pc Rathband was giving evidence in the trial of two men accused of helping the gunman during his bloody rampage.
Karl Ness, 26, and Qhuram Awan, 23, deny plotting to murder, attempted murder, robbery and having a gun.
Ness also denies the murder of karate instructor Mr Brown, 29.
After the murder attempt, Moat ran back to a black Lexus driven by Awan which also contained Ness and the car sped away from the scene, the court heard.
Pc Rathband managed to raise the alarm and knew his car could be located via GPS.
He said: "I was lying there bleeding quite heavily. It all went very quiet and very dark and I had a moment when my children came into view."
He summoned the will to get back on the radio and tell the control room his position, he told the court.
He remembered hearing sirens coming towards him, telling the jury: "I was quite elated someone was coming."
Pc Rathband said his sight was left so bad it was "classed as being 'black blind'."
Asked if he enjoyed his job, he replied: "Yeah, I still do, bizarrely. I love my job."
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.Reuse content