Trial could help blinded policeman see again

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The police officer blinded by gun maniac Raoul Moat said today he was taking part in a trial which could restore his sight using new technology pioneered in the United States.

Pc David Rathband, who lost his sight when he was shot in the face by Moat while on patrol in July, has signed up to a trial scheme run by the Ministry of Defence.

The officer told the Evening Chronicle newspaper in Newcastle: "The thought of being able to see my wife and children again is just amazing."

The pilot scheme involves a camera mounted on a pair of glasses being connected to a sensor on the patient's tongue, which then sends signals from the camera to the brain, bypassing the user's damaged eyesight.

Experts hope the trial will restore light perception and even allow the user to "see" outlines.

Pc Rathband, who has vowed to return to work and who has become an inspiration to many through his determined attitude, was realistic about what the technology would be able to do.

He told the Evening Chronicle: "Anything would be better than what I have now."

He said he was excited, but remained "guarded" about the outcome.

It was believed the Ministry of Defence was testing the technology, known as BrainPort, with a view to it being used by injured veterans.

Hundreds of shotgun pellets remain in Pc Rathband's face after he was blasted while sitting unarmed in his patrol car, and he has said he was very lucky to survive.

Moat had previously shot his ex-lover Sam Stobbart and killed her new boyfriend Chris Brown in Birtley, Gateshead, before he tried to murder the officer in Newcastle.

He then went on the run for a week, declaring war on police, before he ended his life in a stand-off in Rothbury, Northumberland, a week later.