Rathband's twin: 'Time to take my brother home'


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The Independent Online

PC David Rathband's twin said it was "time to take my brother home" at the end of a moving cathedral service for the officer who died after he was shot and blinded by a gunman.

Darren Rathband drove the hearse from St Nicholas's Cathedral, Newcastle, to their native Staffordshire, having earlier booked his brother out from Etal Lane police station - formally finishing the shift he never completed.

Pc Rathband's children Mia, 13, and Ashley, 19, were at the cathedral, along with actor Tim Healy, Northumbria Police chief constable Sue Sim, police minister Nick Herbert, members of the emergency services, and hundreds of members of the North East public who took the Midlander to their hearts.

He was shot and blinded while unarmed in his patrol car in July 2010 by gunman Raoul Moat.

He was found hanging at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29.

Six pallbearers from the police, fire and ambulance service carried his coffin through the cathedral.

In a heart-breaking speech, his twin said: "I have lost half of me.

"You don't get over it, you just get through it.

"Every day grief puts on a new face.

"My brother said to me 'you're a good brother', I say to my brother 'you're a great brother'.

"It is time to take my brother home."

The Dean of Newcastle, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, had welcomed mourners to the service, saying: "We come to give thanks for David's life and to recognise the cost he and others have to pay in the call of duty."

Carly Fee, a humanist celebrant, said: "David served the North East for 12 years. He put himself at risk every day for the greater good."

She added: "One minute he was living an ordinary life - a dad, a husband, a copper.

"The next he was thrust into the public eye - a celebrity, guest of honour at sporting events, a national hero who got a five minute standing ovation at the Pride of Britain Awards.

"Hero worship left David bemused and befuddled, he couldn't get his head around it. He swore, without a hint of false modesty, he was just a normal bloke."

Jos Forester-Melville, a member of the public who helped at the scene of a terrible road traffic accident in Northumberland in which two women died said Pc Rathband, the first officer at the scene, showed tremendous compassion in the days and weeks that followed.

She said: "David was at that time the kindest and most caring person I could have wished for.

"He spent considerable time talking and listening, making sure I understood I had done what I could."

The author Tony Horne, ghost-writer of the officer's book Tango 190, called for Rathband's Law - legislation to ensure 999 personnel get the help they need if they are injured by a criminal act at work.

He said: "If you are a public figure who has stood by David sincerely in support, or as a cynical photo opp, your time is now and your duty is to make sure that there are no empty promises and hollow words - make the ethos of the Blue Lamp Foundation a political reality."

Pc Rathband's traffic officer's cap was on top of his coffin, which was draped with the Union flag, along with white lilies.

As the hearse drove away, met with public applause, flowers which spelled out his Tango 190 call sign in orange and a yellow and red Northumbria Police badge tribute could be seen.

On the way to the cathedral the cortege had stopped at Etal Lane police station, and were met by a guard of honour.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert said afterwards: "I think it is right that we remember this brave police officer and what he did for the community that he served."

Chief Constable Sue Sim added: "He was gunned down in tragic circumstances doing the job of constable he loved.

"My heart goes out to Kath and the children and the rest of the family."

Mrs Rathband did not attend the ceremony.

She will be at his funeral next Saturday in Staffordshire and also at a police memorial service at the same cathedral in nine days time.