Pc David Rathband had affair with 7/7 survivor

Pc David Rathband was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29 2012. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Hero Pc David Rathband was found dead at his home after an affair with a survivor of the 7/7 bombings effectively ended his marriage, an inquest heard today.

The 44-year-old, who was blinded by gunman Raoul Moat in 2010, 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 his widow Kath told the inquest at Newcastle's Moot Hall, he later lost motivation and had failed to adjust to losing his sight. In February 2012, he was found hanging at his home in Blyth, Northumberland.

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 ended their marriage.

The ex-wife of Pc David Rathband, Kath Rathband, leaves Moot Hall in Newcastle after giving evidence. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

"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. She told the inquest David 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.

Lisa French, leaves Moot Hall in Newcastle after attending the inquest. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

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.

The sisters of David Rathband Julie Reece and Debbie Essery with their father Keith Rathband. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Before the inquest hearing began, the father and sisters of Mr Rathband told reporters the officer was "let down by the people that could have prevented his death".

Mr Rathband's father Keith said: "The evidence that the coroner has been given identifies that David was let down by the people that could have prevented his death.

"The findings of the coroner may be a foregone conclusion to many. Our hope is he finds David's death was preventable in the circumstances."

The inquest continues.