Hundreds pay tribute to Pc Rathband
The war of words between Pc David Rathband's widow and his twin brother has continued as hundreds of people gathered for his funeral.
Family, friends and colleagues filled Stafford Crematorium to pay tribute to the former traffic officer, who was left blind after being shot by gunman Raoul Moat in 2010.
The father-of-two, hailed a hero for his fundraising and his attempts to rebuild his life after losing his sight and a job he adored, hanged himself at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29.
The funeral service began in humorous style, with the Monty Python song Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life playing as Pc Rathband's coffin was carried in. His two teenage children, Ashley, 19, and Mia, 13, and their mother Kath - who split from Pc Rathband before his death, were among the mourners.
Humanist celebrant Carly Fee told the congregation that the policeman's family were "unanimous" that his funeral should be a celebration of his life. She said that the lighthearted song - which drew laughs from some of the mourners - was chosen because "it encapsulates David's own optimistic outlook and irrepressible humour".
His twin brother, Darren, who lives in Australia, gave a moving eulogy in which he remembered his brother's supportive nature as they grew up together, and his recent struggle to live with his blindness.
But in what appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on widow Kath, the 44-year-old, said: "Sadly we are a broken family from his passing and there is grief in all of us. I hope that those who carry a burden after his death carry it with themselves and don't aim to lay that at his graveside. It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenceless one."
He added: "I just hope the memory of my brother is not tarnished by others who feel the need to set the record straight. Because the record is simply this, Pc Rathband succumbed to his injuries and the struggle with life, having been shot by a coward who will remain forgotten."
Darren Rathband, who is also a police officer, had asked Kath, 42, to stay away from the funeral and has criticised her for missing last Saturday's memorial service in Newcastle.
Mrs Rathband split from the former Northumbria Police officer last year, after he grew close to 7/7 survivor Lisa French, 36. She has been caught in a bitter feud with his family since his death and has employed PR guru Max Clifford as her spokesman.