Pc Rathband inquest: Former Sunderland bobby was ‘let down,’ says family

DAVID RATHBAND ... an inquest into his death will be held today.
DAVID RATHBAND ... an inquest into his death will be held today.
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THE family of Pc David Rathband have said he was “let down by the people that could have prevented his death” as they attended his inquest, two years after he was found dead at his home.

The 43-year-old, who spent part of his career in Sunderland, was left blind and fighting for his life after gunman Raoul Moat shot him twice while he was on the run in July 2010.

Speaking on the steps of Moot Hall, Newcastle, 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.”

Mr Rathband’s sisters, Debbie Essery and Julie Reece, joined their father in expressing concerns about previous events.

Ms Essery said: “Northumbria Police investigated a complaint made by David’s brother Darren.

“Into those issues the investigation found there was no case to be answered.

“As a family, we do not accept this. The findings of that investigation are contradictory to the evidence the coroner has been given.”

Pc Rathband won national praise for his battle against disability and for setting up a charity to help other emergency workers injured in the line of their work.

He was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29 2012.

Mr Rathband, a father of two, was estranged from his wife Kath, and reportedly told her she would “look nice in black” when they spoke on the phone for the last time.

His twin Darren, a police officer in Australia, is not attending the inquest, and his widow Kath and son Ash walked in separately from the dead officer’s father and sisters.

Before blasting the unarmed traffic officer, Moat shot and injured his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, and killed her boyfriend, 29-year-old Chris Brown.

Moat shot himself in Rothbury, Northumberland, during a standoff with police at the end of a week-long manhunt.

An inquest into Mr Brown’s death concluded last month he was unlawfully killed.

Mr Rathband had an affair with 7/7 survivor Lisa French in the months before he died which effectively ended their marriage, his widow told the inquest.

The disabled officer could not understand why she would not take him back, and would call her up to 100 times a day, Mrs Rathband said.

She visited him at his home on the evening that he hanged himself and was concerned enough to call his welfare officer, Inspector John Heckles, and to text his sister Mrs Essery 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.”