Pc blinded by Raoul Moat leaves hospital

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The Independent Online

A policeman who was left blinded after being shot in the face by deranged gunman Raoul Moat in a random attack 17 days ago was discharged from hospital today.









Pc David Rathband was sitting in his patrol car at a roundabout in Newcastle when the killer opened fire on him without warning.



The married father-of-two was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save his sight.



His brother Darren confirmed he was discharged from the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary today.









Speaking outside the hospital, Pc Rathband's twin brother Darren, 42, said he'd travelled up from Stafford to see his brother safe from hospital.



He said: "David's left hospital today, he's gone home with Kath and the children.



"He's good.



"He's fine, he's in remarkable spirits. His face is remarkably well; he looks similar to me, he's got a great sense of humour, but he's very well aware that he's got a massive road ahead of him.



"He's asking for some time; he just wants some time with his family.



"I'm sure he has a plan for the future.



"He wants to help people and that's what he's going to do."













Pc Rathband, who was shot twice in the attack, said he was now "medically" on the mend.



He told Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live: "My facial injuries have all been sorted by the plastics team at the hospital and it's just a case of allowing my jaw and face and stuff to knit together.



"I have to come back in three to four weeks to have another examination of my left eye just to see if there's something they can salvage from that."



Despite his injuries, he insisted he felt "good about what's ahead" and said he was looking forward to "sleeping in my own bed".



But he admitted that adapting to the "life-changing" events would be hard.



"It's going to very difficult and I'm devastated, but I'm not going to dwell on it because if I do then, in my opinion, it will block out all of the things that I need to achieve to get to where I need to be."



During the interview he spoke of his immediate fears as he was blasted by Moat but insisted he still felt no bitterness towards the gunman who was "trying to kill me".



Bouncer Moat, 37, from Newcastle, went on the rampage after his ex-lover Sam Stobbart, of Birtley, Gateshead, told him their relationship was over.



He shot Ms Stobbart, killed her new boyfriend, karate instructor Chris Brown, and blasted the policeman before going on the run, sparking a week-long manhunt.



The steroid-abusing father of three shot himself dead in Rothbury, Northumberland in the early hours of July 10 at the end of a six-hour stand-off by the River Coquet.



But while questions have been raised over the police handling of the investigation, Pc Rathband today defended fellow officers.



"I'm very mindful that only a few months ago, not too far away, this incident here could have been very similar to what happened in Cumbria," he said.



And he insisted colleagues had been "nothing but professional", adding: "Whatever happened at Rothbury would never have been avoided, other than the fact that he may well have injured or killed someone else in the final moments that he decided to have the world's press descend on him."



Last week, the opening of the inquest into Moat's death heard two Tasers were fired at him around the same time as the fatal shot.



Today a second post-mortem examination was expected to take place at the request of his brother Angus.



This was to follow an initial examination which apparently found no marks consistent with a Taser injury.



Two firearms officers from West Yorkshire Police fired XRep Tasers, which were not approved by the Home Office, it emerged outside the hearing.



The weapon, fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, is being tested by the Home Office before being approved for use by police forces in England and Wales.



But the Home Office stressed police could use any weapon they saw fit as long as its use was "lawful, reasonable and proportionate".



The matter was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by Northumbria Police.



A total of 20 people have been arrested in connection with the case.



Two people have been charged with conspiracy to murder and will appear before Newcastle Crown Court tomorrow. They are Karl Ness, 26, from Dudley, North Tyneside, and Qhuram Awan, 23, from Blyth.

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