Blinded hero cop killed himself after affair with 7/7 bombing survivor ended his marriage
Hero PC David Rathband was found hanging at his home after an affair with a survivor of the 7/7 bombing effectively ended his marriage, an inquest heard today.
The 44-year-old, who was blinded by gunman Raoul Moat, had won national praise for the way he tackled his new disability, creating the Blue Lamp Foundation to help emergency workers injured at work.
But after attending the trial of two of Moat's accomplices in spring 2011, he lost motivation and had failed to adjust to losing his sight, his widow Kath told the inquest at Newcastle's Moot Hall.
In February 2012, he was found hanging at the three-storey townhouse in Blyth, Northumberland, he moved into following a domestic incident with his wife.
Mrs Rathband, mother of 21-year-old Ash and Mia, 15, said her husband had several affairs with women, but his last with Lisa French, a survivor of the London bombing, ended their marriage.
"By this point it was my opinion our marriage was over due to David's level of deceit," the widow told the inquest.
She said she had always forgiven him for his previous affairs.
"This was the one and only occasion I felt me and the kids had had enough," she said.
Both women gave evidence at the hearing, which was also attended by his two sisters and his father Keith.
Mrs Rathband found out about the friendship which started on Twitter had become more serious just days before her husband flew to Australia to visit his twin, Darren.
Mrs Rathband told the inquest he could not understand why she would not take him back, and would call her up to 100 times a day.
It became so bad she enlisted the support of the Domestic Violence Unit, she told the inquest.
Mr Rathband, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent, would send abusive messages, and would sometimes threaten to self-harm.
But his wife said the pattern was for him to send unpleasant messages to her but to be calm and rational when she spoke directly to him.
From Australia, Mr Rathband called her pretending to be a police officer announcing his death, and then said "You will see a fluorescent jacket at the door" - a reference to how the news would be broken to her by the emergency services.
Mrs Rathband told the inquest that one abusive message she received when he was in Australia read: "I will swing before you receive a penny."
She visited him for the last time on the evening he died.
He looked "awful", was not eating, and was still in his pyjamas, she told the coroner.
He was upset, telling her he loved her and apologised.
Mrs Rathband realised he needed support, but felt she was not the right person to be with him and contacted his sister Debbie Essery in Staffordshire and his welfare officer Inspector John Heckles.
After she left him, he rang to tell her that "I wouldn't see him again," Mrs Rathband said.
He also told her: "Don't bother sending anyone round. If you do, they won't get in and I will say I am fine."
Mrs Rathband said: "I told him 'Don't be stupid, don't say things like that'."
She was to hear the "devastating news David had taken his own life" later that evening, she said.
Officers including Inspector Heckles broke into his home and found him hanging in the darkness, with music playing from his phone.
The previous August, there had been a domestic incident at their home after she found out he was leaving her.
Mr Rathband got "mad" when he heard her talking to a friend about it and their son called the police.
It was after the incident, which was attended by police, that Mr Rathband moved out of the family home but she insisted they remained "very much" a couple until she found out about his new lover.
Ms French told the hearing said he had expressed suicidal thoughts to her, but that he did not want to go through with it.
"He fought bravely and courageously for the whole six months that I knew him," she said.
She had been worried about his welfare and had recommended he needed very specialist support to get over the trauma, she said.
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.
The inquest continues.