This article contains discussion of themes including suicide that some readers may find upsetting.


ITV's new three-part drama The Hunt For Raoul Moat follows the story of killer Raoul Moat and the police operation to catch him after he shot three people in July 2010 and then went on the run.

His first two victims were his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and her new boyfriend Chris Brown, who were both shot in the early hours of 3rd July. Just a few hours later, he shot police officer David Rathband, and then evaded police for a week while threatening to kill officers and members of the public.

The manhunt ended following a six hour stand-off with armed police officers, with Moat shooting himself.

What happened to David Rathband?

David Rathband was a 42-year-old traffic police officer who was sitting in his police patrol car near East Denton, Tyne and Wear, the day after Raoul Moat went on the run following the shooting of Samantha Stobbart and Chris Brown.

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That day, Moat had phoned 999 to declare war on the police, and just 12 minutes later, he walked up to Rathband's car and shot the police officer in the face.

"I looked into his eyes and saw nothing – no emotion. Then I felt the pain full-on in my face," Rathband told The Sun. "I knew my right eye socket had just exploded and my eye had gone."

David Rathband was taken to Newcastle General Hospital with severe injuries to his head and upper body. Just 50 minutes later, Moat called the police once more, showing no concern for the police officer (as reported by The Guardian). Rathband spent 17 days in hospital. He lost the sight in both eyes and was left with more than 200 shotgun pellets lodged in his skull.

Sadly, David never came to terms with his injuries, and a year after the shooting, he admitted he had experienced suicidal thoughts. "I'm not a robot, I have been badly affected by what's happened," he said in an interview (via The Sun). "I have to wait and see but as long as I have the conviction to carry on doing the best by my family then I don't think I can go far wrong."

He later split from his wife Kath, with whom he had two children, and on February 29th 2012, almost 18 months after he was shot by Moat, David Rathband was found hanged at his home in Blyth.

David Rathband

David's twin brother Darren spoke about him on the 10th anniversary of his death to the Daily Mirror.

"After David was shot, he often told me that the [police] service was making him jump through hoops," he alleged. "They fought him over every penny. He needed a special cane to walk, but they didn't want to pay for it. He needed dental treatment after being shot, they didn’t want to pay for that either. He waited over 12 months to receive any special counselling, which I believe contributed to his eventual breakdown and suicide."

Northumbria Police said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of our former colleague David.

“Whenever an officer is injured in the line of duty we are committed to providing them with support."

David had visited Darren – who moved to Australia in 2008 – shortly before his death, and it was before his return to the UK that he had posted some worrying tweets, including one in which he wrote: "Lost my sight, my job, my wife and my marriage… flying back on Monday and will say goodbye to my children."

Following his death, tributes flowed in for David, including one from former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has been blind since birth.

"I am deeply saddened and I am worried about his wife Kath and his family," Blunkett said (via BBC News). "There was a man who was struggling inside as well as with the practicalities of coping with blindness. He was actually coping extremely well, but he didn't believe so. He was so hurt and frustrated and angry inside and felt that he wasn't coping when he was better at using new technology than I was."

David Rathband funeral

David had been due to carry the Olympic torch during the Summer Olympics torch relay in June 2012. Instead, his 13-year-old daughter Mia, who wore a blindfold in his honour, was handed the flame in Whitburn and walked with it as part of the Gateshead to Durham leg of the tour.

"It means so much to Mia and the family that she's been given this opportunity to carry the Olympic torch in her dad’s place," David's widow Kath said at the time (via Chronicle Live). "It was a great honour for David to be nominated as a torch bearer by so many people and to be selected. I know he would be very proud to see his Mia carry the torch on his behalf."

Now aged 24, Mia has a young son named Ronnie whose middle name is David, in tribute to his grandfather.

"We talk to Ronnie about David all the time, we show him photos," Kath told the Daily Mirror in a recent interview. "Mia has a teddy bear that speaks in her dad's voice and we give that to him and let him hear his voice. Being a grandma to him is amazing, the best thing ever… But it is bittersweet, as David isn't here, and I know it is one of Mia's biggest regrets her dad won't be there for all of the milestones in her life.

"David is still very much a part of our lives. We think how lucky we were to have him."

If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk by calling 116 123, or by visiting the charity's website. You can also find help and support at Mind.

The Hunt for Raoul Moat begins airing on ITV1 at 9pm on Sunday 16th April. For more news, interviews and features, visit our Drama hub or find something to watch now with our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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