THE family of PC David Rathband, who was found hanged less than two years after being blinded by gunman Raoul Moat, say they will continue the officer’s legal fight with Northumbria Police.

Speaking moments after an inquest ruled PC Rathband had intentionally taken his own life, sister Debbie Essery said the family would continue litigation against the force "for the benefit of David's children."

Northumbria Police however insisted it had done "everything we could" to support the wounded officer after he was shot by the fugitive killer in July 2010.

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Coroner Eric Armstrong said the shooting was the "first step" in a series of events which led to PC Rathband killing himself at his home in Blyth, Northumberland in February 2012.

The 44-year-old traffic officer grew desperate after the collapse of his marriage and struggled to cope with his sudden disability.

Mr Armstrong said: "It is difficult, if not impossible, not to view the infliction of those injuries as the first step in a series which culminated in his death."

The three-day inquest at Newcastle’s Moot Hall heard Mr Rathband had made threats to kill himself, but his widow Kath and police colleagues did not consider him to be at immediate risk.

Mrs Rathband had put up with previous affairs, but his relationship with London bombing survivor Lisa French had effectively ended the marriage.

While on holiday he made desperate attempts to contact his wife, ringing up to 50 times a day and on one occasion threatening to video-call his wife and kill himself while she watched.

Mr Armstrong said: "Sadly I have to say I am drawn inescapably to the conclusion that David intended to take his own life."

In a statement read after the hearing, Mrs Rathband thanked family and friends for their "unwavering" support.

She said: "Three-and-a-half years ago all of our lives changed irrevocably.

"David fought so hard to come to terms with the devastating injuries that resulted from the shooting and the effect it had on us all as a family.

"Whilst I have lost David, he has left me with two amazing children and he would be immensely proud of them and what they have achieved, as I am".

She added: "It has been an immensely difficult few years for us all now that the inquest has been concluded I would like to ask for privacy for Ashley, Mia and myself so we can look to rebuild our lives while remembering David and all that he meant to us".

After the hearing, Mrs Essery spoke on behalf of Mr Rathband's parents and siblings, saying: "The loss of David has devastated our family.

"We will never be able to come to terms with this.

"Darren (his twin borther) and I, as executors, will now continue with David's litigation against Northumbria Police for the benefit of David's children".

However, Northumbria Police refuted family suggestions that the force had failed to adequately support its officer, revealing he died just weeks before it was hoped he would return to work.

Chief Constable Sue Sim said: "Such allegations are totally without justification. We provided the highest level of financial, welfare and rehabilitation support to David, far in excess of any legal duty".

She added: "At all times, we treated David with compassion.

"We are confident that we did everything we could in these exceptional circumstances to support David financially, medically and in every other way possible.

"David was a valued and skilled officer. We all repeat our deep sadness at his death."