Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Pc blinded by Moat was found hanged

Pc David Rathband was found hanged at his home in Northumberland
Tributes left outside the home of Pc David Rathband in Blyth, Northumberland

Pc David Rathband - the police officer shot and blinded by Raoul Moat - was found hanged, a coroner has been told.

The father of two's body was discovered hanging from a length of material in the stairwell of his three-storey semi-detached home on Heather Lea, in Bebside, Blyth, Northumberland, on Wednesday evening.

Officers broke into the 44-year-old's home through a back patio door after fears were raised for his wellbeing. Pc Rathband was reported to have posted a series of messages on Twitter in the days immediately before his death.

The traffic officer, who had returned on Monday from a holiday in Australia, was reported to have tweeted "RIP PC Rathband" and that he had "lost my sight, my job, my wife and my marriage" and would "say goodbye to my children".

South Northumberland coroner Eric Armstrong heard that one of the officers who broke into Pc Rathband's house saw "a dark shape" hanging from the banisters. Opening the inquest to the Pc's death, he said: "Inspector David Guthrie was on duty on the evening of February 29 when he received a radio message that concerns had been expressed for the welfare of Pc Rathband.

"He attended the home address, where other police officers were also in attendance. They attempted to attract the attention of the occupant, then entry was forced through a patio door.

"Mr Guthrie, on climbing the stairs, observed a length of material suspended from a banister and a dark shape suspended from that which subsequent examination revealed to be the body of Pc Rathband."

Retired Northumbria Police traffic officer Keith Lamb told the inquest opening in Blyth that he identified Pc Rathband's body at Wansbeck District Hospital. Mr Lamb, now deputy coroner's officer, was Pc Rathband's former colleague at motor patrols in Newcastle.

Home Office pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper said the cause of death was pressure on the neck due to hanging.

Meanwhile, film director Michael Winner has proposed that a permanent memorial be made to the Pc Rathband. Mr Winner, who is chairman of the Police Memorial Trust, said the tribute should be placed at the spot on the A1 roundabout where Pc David Rathband was shot.

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