PRIME Minister David Cameron has paid tribute to Pc David Rathband, who was found dead in his Blyth home on Wednesday night.
As news spread around the world on Thursday morning that the officer shot and blinded by gunman Raoul Moat in July 2010 had died, Mr Cameron spoke about a man he described as “extraordinarily brave”.
He said: “I feel desperately sorry for his family.
“After his horrific injuries he did an enormous amount for charity and other injured police officers, and for families who had lost police officers in the line of duty.
“David was an extraordinarily brave man.”
Other tributes came in from businessman and Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne, who was a patron of the officer’s Blue Lamp Foundation.
On his Twitter page he said: “God bless @pcdavidrathband family. I feel so bad for all of you.”
He later tweeted: “What a sad day. RIP #pcdavidrathband. So so sorry I couldn’t do more for you.
“Unarmed and shot not once but twice full in the face by a coward RIP.”
Pc Rathband’s brother Darren, who the officer has only recently returned from visiting in Australia, also made comment on Twitter.
He said: “On way back to the UK, to be at my brothers side. RIP Police Constable 190 David John Rathband Please support blue lamp foundation.”
The charity, which Pc Rathband set up after losing his sight in the shooting, issued a statement saying: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of David Rathband.
“Since being shot in July 2010, David struggled to come to terms with his horrific injuries and the traumatic effect they had on him and his family and friends.
“David’s legacy will live on in the form of The Blue Lamp Foundation, which bears his name.
“The foundation was started by David to help emergency services personnel injured in the line of duty as the result of a criminal act.
“It was David’s wish that those who found themselves in a similar position to him could receive the support that wasn’t available to him at the time.
“David’s family have asked that their privacy be respected at this time and they are allowed the time and space to reflect and grieve.”