- Pc David Rathband found dead in home days after returning from Australia
- Policeman announced end of 20-year marriage to estranged wife Kath in December
- In one of his final Tweets he wrote that ‘Mrs R just wanted to be friends’
- His death follows interview last year in which he revealed he could not see past the next 12 months
- Brother offers support to Pc Rathband during his final days by urging him to ‘stick at it’ and ‘don’t give up’
- Home Secretary Theresa May leads tributes saying Pc Rathband was a ‘brave and fine policeman’
Larisa Brown, John Stevens and Paul Sims
Last updated at 8:57 AM on 1st March 2012
The policeman shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat was found dead last night in a suspected suicide just days after sending a worrying tweet about his own death.
The body of Pc David Rathband was discovered by police officers inside his home in Blyth, Northumberland, at around 7pm.
The father-of-two was known to be struggling with his blindness after he was shot at close range by Moat in the West Denton area of Newcastle in July 2010.
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Tragedy: Pc David Rathband, pictured here with his wife Kath who he had separated from, has been found dead, it was confirmed
Fugitive: Raoul Moat shot Pc Rathband in the face while he was sat in his police patrol car
He had been left with more than 200 shotgun pellets lodged in his skull.
In a BBC interview last September Pc Rathband revealed how he was struggling to get on with his life.
He said: ‘I have spoken to quite a few people over the last few months and everybody tells me that you have got 10 years before you realise you can deal with being blind.
‘At the moment I can’t even see the next 12 months.’
Last night a Northumbria police
spokesman confirmed Pc Rathband had been found dead at his home.
‘At around 7pm officers received a report of concern for
the welfare of PC David Rathband at this home in Blyth.
attended the scene alongside ambulance services and he was found inside.
He was declared dead at the scene.’
Last November, Pc Rathband, 44, announced on Twitter that he had split from his wife Kath, 41, after 20 years.
He had flown back to the UK at the
weekend after a four-week trip to Australia where he had surgery to
remove pieces of shrapnel from his face.
He had spent time with his brother Darren, who lives in the country.
Just hours before he was due to fly
home he revealed on Twitter that final efforts to rescue his marriage
had failed. In one, he revealed that ‘Mrs R’ just wanted to be friends.
Sad: Following news of his brother’s death, Darren Rathband revealed on Twitter that he was returning to the UK
He also tweeted that he had ‘lost my
sight, my job, my wife and my marriage’, and wrote: ‘Flying back on
Monday and will say goodbye to my children.’
In another tweet he said: ‘RIP PC Rathband.’
Pc Rathband later deleted the tweet but other messages on his Twitter page reveal the level of strain he was under.
On Saturday he tweeted: ‘Very emotional few days, but back on track. Now focusing on my trip back to the UK and the road ahead.’
‘I AM TRYING MY BEST AND IT IS TOUGH’: PC DAVID RATHBAND REVEALED HOW HE WAS STRUGGLING WITH LIFE IN A HEARTBREAKING INTERVIEW
Struggled to cope: Pc David Rathband pictured with his former wife Cath
In September last year Pc Rathband gave an interview with the BBC in which he told how he could not see past the next 12 months.
Here is a transcript of that interview.
‘I’m struggling to deal with being blind. I can deal with being shot, it has happened, I can’t change that.
‘I am different to other people and everybody is different and what annoys me is that people treat you as a text book case.
‘Nobody ever came up to me when I got shot or my family and said you are really going to need some help.
‘They just let me get on.
‘I do not know whether a lot of this
is my own perceptions and insecurities but I hear people’s voices when
they are talking to me and I feel the resentment in their voice for
having to guide me around.
‘I have spoken to quite a few people
over the last few months and everybody tells me that I have got 10 years
before you realise you can deal with being blind
‘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.’
Tragedy: Pc Rathband’s home in Blyth, Northumberland, is cordoned off after he was found dead at around 7pm yesterday evening
Cordon: Pc Rathband lived alone after separating from his wife of 20 years. Tonight this officer was standing guard outside
He also told his followers: ‘Thank you for your positive comments I’m trying my best I sometimes get it wrong. Sorry.’
His brother Darren last night tweeted that he was returning to England after being told about Pc Rathband’s death.
He said: ‘On way back to the UK, to be at my brothers side.
RIP Police Constable 190 David John Rathband.
Please support blue lamp foundation.’
Tragic: Pc Rathband’s Twitter pages give an insight into how he was thinking during the past week
Darren’s Twitter pages reveal the level of support which he was offering to his brother during the last week.
On Saturday, he tweeted Pc Rathband saying: ‘Stick at it brother’ before later adding: ‘asking 4help does not make you less of a man’.
The following day Darren told him: ‘don’t give up’.
Brotherly love: Darren Rathband, who lives in Australia, was offering support to his brother on Twitter.
Last night, Northumbria Police Chief Constable
Sue Sim said: ‘I am deeply saddened to have to confirm the death of Pc
David Rathband and my thoughts are with his family, friends and
colleagues at this difficult time.
July 2010 his life changed for ever when he was shot and blinded by
Raoul Moat. David showed outstanding bravery in what was a terrifying
‘He was a dedicated officer who acted in the best traditions of the police service.’
The Blue Lamp Foundation – a charity started by Pc Rathband – told of its sadness on hearing of his death.
A spokesman said: ‘It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of David Rathband.
Concerns: Pc David Rathband often communicated via his Twitter page, pictured. During the past week he posted some worrying tweets, leaving people concerned about him
Wounded officer: Pc Rathband arrives at Newcastle Crown Court in February last year as he gave evidence against the associates of Raoul Moat
Horrific injuries: Pc Rathband was left with more than 200 shotgun pellets in his face
‘Since being shot in July 2010, David
struggled to come to terms with his horrific injuries and the traumatic
effect they had on him and his family and friends.
‘David’s legacy will live on in the
form of The Blue Lamp Foundation, which bears his name. The Foundation
was started by David to help emergency services personnel injured in the
line of duty as the result of a criminal act.
‘It was David’s wish that those who
found themselves in a similar position to him could receive the support
that wasn’t available to him at the time.
‘David’s family have asked that their
privacy be respected at this time and they are allowed the time and
space to reflect and grieve.’
When he was shot by Moat in 2010, the traffic policeman played dead until he could alert his colleagues.
Moat, 37, a former nightclub bouncer,
was on the run after shooting his former girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart,
23, and executing her new partner, Chris Brown, 29.
At the trial of his accomplices, Karl
Ness and Qhuram Awan, PC Rathband told a court how he had seen the
crazed killer approach his Volvo before two shots were fired through the
passenger window. He was convinced he was going to die, he told the
jury. Somehow he managed to radio for help and was rushed to hospital
where he had emergency surgery.
In November he announced the end of his 20-year marriage.
A BRAVE AND DEDICATED MAN WHO ‘DIDN’T DESERVE WHAT LIFE DEALT HIM’
The bravery shown by Pc David Rathband following the horrific attack on him by gunman Raoul Moat touched and inspired people up and down the country.
Here are some of the tributes which have been paid to him.
Home Secretary Theresa May
‘I had the privilege of meeting Pc David Rathband. He was a brave and fine policeman. My thoughts are with his family.’
Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim
‘David showed outstanding bravery….He was a dedicated officer who acted in the best traditions of the police service.’
The Blue Lamp Foundation
‘David’s legacy will live on in the form of The Blue Lamp Foundation’
Iain Dale – Journalist and Managing Director of Biteback, which published Tango 190
‘We’ll never know what went through his mind, but the whole country will be mourning the loss of a very brave man, who didn’t deserve what life dealt out to him.
Newcastle United fans’ website – NUFCfans.co.uk
‘RIP PC David Rathband. Tragic news.’
Clearly heartbroken he wrote: ‘Sad to announce Mrs R has called time on our marriage. Separation permanent.’
The couple separated at the end of
August after police were called to their £300,000 home in Cramlington,
Northumberland, following reports of a domestic incident.
PC Rathband was detained by colleagues
from Northumbria Police on suspicion of assault after responding to a
late-night call made by the couple’s son Ashley, 19.
Charity: Pc David Rathband, pictured here with Dragons Den star Duncan Bannatyne on a sponsored blindfold walk, had set up the Blue Lamp Foundation after being shot by Moat
HOW SHOOTING HORROR LED TO THE END OF A 20-YEAR MARRIAGE
After being shot in July 2010, Pc Rathband struggled to come to terms with his injuries and the effect they had on his family and friends.
In November last year, the 43-year-old used Twitter to announce that he was divorcing his wife of 20 years, Kath, 41.
He wrote: ‘Sad to announce Mrs R has called time on our marriage. Separation permanent.’
Minutes after his tweet, his wife replied on the website: ‘Slight inaccuracy in the tweet by @pcdavidrathband – He left us and refuses to come home.’
The couple separated at the end of August after police were called to their home in Cramlington, Northumberland, following reports of a domestic incident.
Pc Rathband was arrested by colleagues from Northumbria Police on suspicion of assault after they responded to a late-night call made by the couple’s son Ashley, 19.
The former traffic officer, a father of two, was spoken to at the scene and officers gave the couple advice before leaving.
PC Rathband, a former traffic officer, was spoken to at the scene and officers gave the couple advice before leaving.
After he was shot, PC Rathband
launched his own charity, the Blue Lamp Foundation, to help emergency
service personnel injured in the line of duty. He also won bravery
In his autobiography, Tango 190, he
paid tribute to his wife and children for supporting him in the months
after the shooting in July. ‘I live for them now,’ he wrote.
Moat, who shot and injured his former
partner Sam Stobbart and killed her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, vowed to
kill as many policemen as he could while on the run.
He was finally
cornered by armed officers in the Northumberland village of Rothbury
where, after a six hour stand-off, he shot himself in the head with his
After Pc Rathband was shot, surgeons were unable
to save his sight. His lost his right eyeball and his left remains
shrunken and bloodshot.
Following the news of Moat’s death Pc Rathband said he had enjoyed his first full night’s sleep for ages.
the aftermath of the shooting he launched legal action against
Northumbria Police, accusing the force of failing to do enough to
protect him and fellow officers from the killer.
Shooting: Pc Rathband’s brother Darren speaks to the media in the hours after the Northumbria Police officer was shot by fugitive Raoul Moat
A CHARITY TO HELP OTHERS INJURED IN THE LINE OF DUTY
Despite the trauma and heartache which Pc David Rathband has suffered in the past 18 months, he turned his attention to helping others.
While lying in his hospital bed recovering from the horrific injuries he suffered at the hands of Raoul Moat, he thought up The Blue Lamp Foundation.
It offers support to those working for the emergency services who have been injured in the line of duty.
This included offering emergency financial aid to cover unexpected costs such as hospital car parking charges, emergency child care costs and travel costs.
The charity was aiming to make £1million by 2013.
Celebrities Carol Vorderman and Duncan Bannatyne are patrons.
In December last year, PC Rathband was told that he could have his sight restored by a revolutionary device.
Rathband told how he hoped to take part in a trial of the pioneering
machine, which helps blind people ‘see’ using their tongue.
He was offered a conditional place by researchers but had to raise the £16,000 required to take part.
The BrainPort technology, which was designed in the U.S., can enable blind people to visualise objects and shapes.
are processed from a video camera attached to dark glasses and sent
through a tiny probe containing hundreds of electrodes to the tongue.
The tongue sends the impulses to the brain, which learns to interpret these sensations as a visual image.
PC Rathband said: ‘I’d love to be able to see some shadows or a bit of light.
‘I’ve gone from a man who did things when I wanted to, to a man who has to depend on others to do things with me and for me.