Pc blinded by gunman Raoul Moat found dead

 

PC David Rathband always insisted he never hated Raoul Moat for blinding him.

He was too busy, he said, to think of the former nightclub bouncer who shot him twice at point blank range two years ago destroying his eyes, ending his career and ultimately claiming his life.

The discovery of the 44-year-old former traffic officer dead at a flat in Blyth, Northumberland on Wednesday night where he had been living since separating from his wife Kath last year is being treated as suicide by police.

Despite his protestations Pc Rathband had spoken frequently and candidly in public about his difficulties coping with sudden disability and the impact it had on his family, particularly his two young children.

Those close to him however hoped his energetic charity campaigning and natural determination would see him through the physical and mental anguish that endured.

But the state of his mind was revealed in a series of disturbing tweets made in the days leading up to his death.

He had just returned from Australia where he was staying with his twin brother Darren, also a policeman, and where he had undergone surgery to remove some of the 200 pellets still lodged in his skull.

As he set off for the long flight home messages appeared on his Twitter account saying: “lost my sight, my job and my marriage… flying back on Monday and will say goodbye to my children” before signing ominously “RIP PC Rathband”.

They were later deleted and he denied sending them when contacted by Northumbria Police which had been alerted by a concerned member of the public. Officers met him at the airport.

By this time he had added: “Very emotional few days, but back on track. Now focusing on my trip back to the UK and the road ahead.”

The future had always been a difficult place to the former plumber.

In a BBC interview last year he described his insecurity.

“I feel as if the majority of people I have worked with or by have forgotten what happened to me, why it happened and what I tried to do,” he said. “At the moment I can't even see the next 12 months. But I am taking each day as it comes. I am trying my best and it is tough”

Prime Minister David Cameron led the many tributes describing Pc Rathband, who joined the ranks in 2000 after serving as a special constable, as an “extraordinarily brave man”.

Northumbria Chief Constable Sue Sim, who led the operation to find Moat in July 2010, said he was a dedicated officer.

Celebrities, including Carol Vorderman and Duncan Bannatyne, both patrons of his charity the Blue Lamp Foundation which raises money for injured emergency service personnel, spoke of their shock and distress.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who knew him well, said he had never come to terms with losing his sight and remained angry at his loss.

Neighbours meanwhile laid flowers and messages of sympathy at his home while fellow officers described their sadness at his apparent suicide.

Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever said: “He exemplified the very best of British policing.”

But although he had been garlanded with awards and plaudits since he was injured, Pc Rathband believed he had been badly let down by his employers doing the job he loved. He had been due to return to duty in April in the road safety unit.

He had threatened legal action against Northumbria Police who he claimed had allowed him to be a “sitting duck” in his marked patrol car on a roundabout on the A1 despite knowing of Moat’s determination to kill a police officer.

The bouncer had already shot and injured his former partner Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, 29 before sparking one of the biggest man hunts Britain has ever seen.

Moat eventually shot himself after a standoff with armed police at the Northumberland village of Rothbury where he had been hiding out for several days.

Two accomplices, - Karl Ness, 26, and Qhuram Awan, 23 - were jailed for life in March last year after being found guilty of Pc Rathband’s attempted murder.

The officer’s sister Debbie Essery, spent two weeks with her brother before he went to Australia. “In my heart of hearts I can never, never forgive Raoul Moat for what he did to my brother. But what he did is just one of a number of contributing factors that have led to this,” she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat