Police did not believe David Rathband intended to carry out suicide threat, inquest hears (From The Northern Echo)
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Police did not believe David Rathband intended to carry out suicide threat, inquest hears
5:36pm Tuesday 7th January 2014 in News
A DETECTIVE told an inquest she did not believe PC David Rathband intended to carry out a "bizarre" threat to hang himself in a video call to his estranged wife.
The 44-year-old had been left blind and fighting for his life after gunman Raoul Moat shot him twice while he was on the run in July 2010.
In February 2012 he was found hanged at the three-storey townhouse in Blyth, Northumberland, which he had moved into following a domestic incident with his wife.
Detective Constable Alison Brown, the police liaison officer who worked with the Rathband family after he was shot, told the inquest at Newcastle's Moot Hall he made the threat to his estranged wife Kath.
But the officer, who said her professional relationship with the family eventually developed into a personal one, said she never thought he would actually kill himself.
"She said he was thinking of hanging himself and would put his phone onto Facetime so she could see him doing it," she said.
"I thought it was such a bizarre thing to say. Saying you're going to hang yourself and do it on Facetime is bizarre.
"David had never said to me personally that he had any suicidal thoughts. I knew there was these Twitter posts and what he said to Kath but he never said anything to me.
"For someone to say that, I just thought it was an awful thing to say.
"I was concerned for his well-being and his mental state but I did not think he would kill himself."
Yesterday (Monday, January 6) Mrs Rathband told of how her husband had several affairs with women, but his last with Lisa French, a survivor of the 7/7 London bombing, ended their marriage.
The inquest also heard details about how the police responded to concerns about PC Rathband's welfare on the night he died.
A senior officer, who was on duty that night, said a number of factors contributed towards them not concluding there was an immediate threat to his life.
Superintendent James Napier, of Northumbria Police, said their decision was influenced by the fact PC Rathband had previously made threats to kill himself and that, unusually, the family had voiced their concerns through Facebook.
"Following the horrific assault he suffered in 2010 I decided an officer should visit his home address and check on his welfare," he said.
But he added: "It's my experience that people who intend to take their own lives will do so. Those who make threats to take it over a period of time need help."