The policeman who was shot and blinded by crazed gunman Raoul Moat has been found dead at his home in a suspected suicide.
The body of Pc David Rathband was discovered in Blyth, Northumberland, on Wednesday night after officers received a report of concern for his welfare. A Northumbria Police spokesman said no-one was being sought in connection with the incident.
The father of two, 44, lost his sight and was fitted with prosthetic eyes after being shot at close range in July 2010 during the manhunt for fugitive Moat.
Paying tribute, Chief Constable Sue Sim said she was “deeply saddened” by the death of Pc Rathband, a “dedicated officer” who showed “outstanding bravery in what was a terrifying situation”.
Former bouncer Moat was the subject of a huge manhunt as he evaded capture for a week before shooting himself dead after a stand-off with police in the market town of Rothbury, Northumberland. On July 3 2010, he had shot and injured his former partner Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, 29.
The following day, after declaring he was now “hunting for officers”, Moat crept up on armed Pc Rathband as he sat in his marked police car at a roundabout above the A1. Pc Rathband was shot in the face and shoulder but saved his own life by pretending to be dead. He was left with more than 200 shotgun pellets lodged in his skull.
The officer, who joined Northumbria Police in 2000, later announced he was suing the force after he was left “a sitting duck” when gunman Moat declared war on police during his rampage.
After the attack, the policeman launched his own charity, the Blue Lamp Foundation, which aims to help emergency service personnel injured in the line of duty. Pc Rathband announced on Twitter in November that he and his wife Kath were separating permanently.
A spokesman for the Blue Lamp Foundation said: “Since being shot in July 2010, David struggled to come to terms with his horrific injuries and the traumatic effect they had on him and his family and friends. The foundation was started by David to help emergency services personnel injured in the line of duty as the result of a criminal act. It was David’s wish that those who found themselves in a similar position to him could receive the support that wasn’t available to him at the time.”
Former Scotland Yard commander John O’Connor said the consequences of Pc Rathband’s injuries had been “too much for him to live with”, adding on ITV’s Daybreak: “No amount of counselling or compensation can give you back what you’ve lost and that’s the bottom line of it.”