David Rathband inquest: PC's video threat to kill himself
- 7 January 2014
- From the section Tyne & Wear
A policeman shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat threatened to force his estranged wife to watch him hang himself, an inquest has heard.
David Rathband made the "bizarre" threat during a video call with his wife Kath, family liaison officer DC Alison Brown told the hearing.
But she said she did not believe the 43-year-old, who was shot by Moat in July 2010, would go through with it.
PC Rathband was found hanged in Blyth, Northumberland, in 2012.
The inquest in Newcastle heard that after being shot, he won national praise for the way he tackled his disability, creating the Blue Lamp Foundation to help emergency workers injured at work.
But in February 2012 he was found hanged at the three-storey townhouse in Blyth, Northumberland, where he had moved following a domestic incident with his wife.
DC Brown told the hearing that PC Rathband had threatened his wife, saying he would kill himself on video so she would have to watch.
"She said he was thinking of hanging himself and would put his phone on to FaceTime [a form of video call] so she could see him doing it," she said.
"I thought it was such a bizarre thing to say. David had never said to me personally that he had any suicidal thoughts. I was concerned for his wellbeing and his mental state but I did not think he would kill himself."
The inquest heard how on the night of PC Rathband's death, Northumbria Police responded to concerns about his welfare.
A senior officer who was on duty said a "number of factors" contributed towards them not concluding there was an "immediate threat" to his life.
Supt James Napier said their decision was "influenced" by the fact PC Rathband had previously made threats to kill himself and that "unusually" the family had voiced their concerns through Facebook.
He said: "Following the horrific assault he suffered in 2010 I decided an officer should visit his home address and check on his welfare.
"It's my experience that people who intend to take their own lives will do so. Those who make threats to take it over a period of time need help."
Mrs Rathband has already told the hearing that PC Rathband had several affairs, and that a relationship with 7/7 London bombing survivor Lisa French ended their marriage.
Mr Rathband, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent, would send abusive messages and would sometimes threaten to self-harm, the inquest was told.
But his wife said the pattern was for him to send unpleasant messages to her but to be calm and rational when she spoke to him.
Moat shot Samantha Stobbart, who survived, and Chris Brown, who died, in Birtley, Gateshead, on 3 July 2010, hours after his release from prison.
The next day he shot PC Rathband twice in the face as he sat in his patrol car in East Denton, Newcastle.
Following a week on the run, the former nightclub bouncer turned the gun on himself during a stand-off with police in Rothbury on 10 July.
The inquest into PC Rathband's death is expected to last another two days.