MARCH 2 2012 06:29h

Constable blinded by gunman kills himself

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MORPETH, England, March 1 (UPI) -- A British police officer who was blinded by a shot at close range from a man on a killing spree has taken his own life, authorities said.

Officers dispatched Wednesday evening to David Rathband's home in Blyth, Northumberland, found he had hanged himself, The Guardian reported. Police were responding to a series of disturbing tweets, including one that said "RIP P.C. Rathband."

Rathband, 44, was a veteran police constable and a married father of two children when he encountered Raul Moat July 4, 2010. Moat, who had already wounded his ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend, shot himself as police closed in on him six days later.

Sue Sim, chief constable of the Northumbria Police, said the force had been preparing for Rathband's return to work in an office job. She called Rathband "Raul Moat's final victim."

"This is so tragic," Sim said. "He was an officer who had loved driving police cars and despite his brave attempts he was struggling to come to terms with the sudden loss of his sight."

Rathband had described his depression since he was blinded, made worse by the breakdown of his marriage, and his feeling that other people resented having to help him.

He flew back to England during the weekend from Adelaide, Australia, where his twin brother is a police officer.