PC David Rathband inquest: Northumbria Police deny failings

PC David Rathband Image copyright PA
Image caption PC David Rathband was shot by Raoul Moat as he sat in his patrol car

Northumbria Police have denied they failed a PC who took his own life after he was shot and blinded on duty.

Chief Constable Sue Sim said the force had offered support "far in excess of any legal duty" to David Rathband.

At an inquest in Newcastle, coroner Eric Armstrong found Mr Rathband, who was shot by Raoul Moat in 2010, took his own life in February 2012.

The 44-year-old's family said they would "continue with David's litigation" against the force.

PC David Rathband was found hanged in Blyth, in Northumberland, in February 2012, 19 months after being shot as he sat in his patrol car.

The inquest had heard he had threatened to kill himself after being injured.

Mr Armstrong said he was "drawn inescapably to the conclusion that David intended to take his own life" and that he did not believe Mr Rathband's actions were a "cry for help" because he had locked his door, leaving the key in the lock.

He told the inquest that Mr Rathband's colleagues and friends may, "with the benefit of hindsight, form the view that they wish they could have done something else".

However, he said such things should not be dwelled on as they had taken decisions "which at the time seemed appropriate and were justified".

'Totally without justification'

Mr Rathband had been pursuing legal action against Northumbria Police claiming he should not have been in a patrol car alone when a gunman was on the rampage.

After the hearing, Ms Sim said the coroner had been "satisfied that David took his own life" and "did not criticise any individual or organisation".

"I gave David my personal commitment that, should he wish to do so, he could return to Northumbria Police as a police officer," she said.

"There have been criticisms levelled at Northumbria Police during the inquest by some of David's family.

"We fully understand the family's grief at David's death but we must refute any suggestion that we failed to support David or that the support we provided was inadequate.

"Such allegations are totally without justification. We provided the highest level of financial, welfare and rehabilitation support to David, far in excess of any legal duty."

Outside the inquest, Mr Rathband's sister Debbie Essery said he had "suffered horrific, life-changing injuries which he fought bravely and with courage and dignity, trying to come to terms with a life of pain and darkness".

"The loss of David has devastated our family. We will never be able to come to terms with this."

She added that the family would "now continue with David's litigation against Northumbria Police for the benefit of David's children".

'Incredibly inspirational'

Mrs Rathband's estranged wife Kath, who had told the three-day inquest their marriage ended after her husband's affair with 7/7 London bomber survivor Lisa French, asked for privacy.

In a statement read by lawyer Philip Davison, she said the attack by Moat had changed her family's lives "irrevocably".

"David fought so hard to come to terms with the devastating injuries and the effect it had on us all as a family.

"Whilst I have lost David, he has left me with two amazing children and he would be immensely proud of them and what they have achieved, as I am."

Following the shooting, Mr Rathband set up the Blue Lamp Foundation, which supports emergency services workers injured in the line of duty, and has so far raised more than £400,000.

Sharon Ashurst, from the charity, described him as "incredibly inspirational" and "fun to be around".

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