Tyne & Wear

PC David Rathband inquest: Affair with 7/7 survivor 'ended marriage'

PC David Rathband
Image caption PC David Rathband survived being shot twice in the face as he sat in his patrol car

The wife of a PC shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat has told an inquest his affair with a 7/7 bomb survivor effectively ended their marriage.

Kath Rathband said her estranged husband David would call her up to 100 times a day asking to come home despite having a relationship with Lisa French.

Mrs Rathband was giving evidence at the Newcastle inquest into the PC's death.

The 43-year-old was found hanged in Blyth, Northumberland, in 2012, 19 months after being shot by Moat.

Mrs Rathband said she had visited Mr Rathband at his home on the evening he died and was concerned enough to call his welfare officer, Inspector John Heckles, and to text his sister, Debbie Essery, who lived in Staffordshire.

But despite her fears for his well-being, she did not consider he was going to kill himself, she told the hearing.

"Of course I couldn't possibly know," she said. "Nobody could have known. But I did not feel that David was in imminent danger of taking his life for a moment."

'Level of deceit'

Ms French, who was at the inquest, survived the bombing of the number 30 bus at Tavistock Square in London in 2005, despite sitting near the bomber.

Image caption Kath Rathband said her husband's affair ended their marriage

Mrs Rathband said the last time she saw Mr Rathband he had just returned from Australia and "looked awful".

"He said to me, 'I'm sorry, I do love you'," she told the inquest. "'I don't want to be friends'."

She said that she had taken him back after previous affairs, but would not do so again.

"I told him I couldn't go back after his behaviour to me and the kids and he could not understand why," she said.

Later, he called her to tell her again that he loved her and that "I wouldn't see him again", Mrs Rathband said.

Mrs Rathband said: "I told him, 'Don't be stupid, don't say things like that'."

Mrs Rathband discovered he had begun a relationship with Ms French after they exchanged Twitter messages.

She found out it was more than a friendship in late December 2011, before he flew to Australia to visit his twin and she said it "put an end" to plans to rebuild their marriage.

"By this point it was my opinion our marriage was over due to David's level of deceit," she said.

'Fought bravely'

Giving evidence, Ms French said shortly before his death he told her he had tried to kill himself, but had been unable to go through with it.

She said it had been a "step forward" for her, as it might mean he had "come to terms" with the fact that he could not "put himself through that".

She told the inquest: "David did not make threats to kill himself to me, but he expressed suicidal thoughts. He trusted me and said he felt so low it made him feel suicidal.

Image caption Lisa French had a relationship with David Rathband before his death

"He also spoke at great length about how he did not want to do it and he fought bravely and courageously for the whole six months that I knew him."

Before the inquest began, Mr Rathband's father Keith, said: "The evidence that the coroner has been given identifies that David was let down by the people that could have prevented his death.

"The findings of the coroner may be a foregone conclusion to many. Our hope is he finds David's death was preventable in the circumstances."

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 Mr Rathband, originally from Stafford, 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 Mr Rathband's death is expected to last five days.

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