Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'No Risk' to Life - Top Cop

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'No Risk' to Life - Top Cop

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

PC DAVID Rathband's family should have dialled 999 if they thought his life was at risk, a top cop has said.

Police had 'extreme concerns' for the Northumbria Police officer in the hours before his death, but did not believe he would take his own life.

And Supt Jim Napier, the force's senior commanding officer on duty that night said the fact his sister reported her concerns via Facebook contributed to this view.

Officers were alerted that PC Rathband had made suicide threats to his estranged wife Kath on the evening of Wednesday February 29, 2012.

However while the incident was judged to be 'critical' a senior officer decided there should be an 'appropriate and proportional' response, as opposed to an 'immediate' one.

Supt Napier, who was the force's silver commander that night took the decision that to handle the situation 'sensitively' the right officer should be sent to David's home, not simply the nearest one.

During the second day of an inquest into 44-yearold PC Rathband's death, Supt Napier explained his decision was based on the factors including: -PC Rathband had threatened suicide before and not acted on those threats -His wife Kath feared a police response would inflame the situation.

-Debbie Essery, his sister, chose to report her concerns via Facebook.

-He expected PC Rathband to be 'emotional' and 'argumentative' on police's arrival.

Supt Napier told South Northumberland coroner Eric Armstrong: "There was a risk that David was going to take his own life, but there was also mitigating information. For me there was no immediacy."

Supt Jim Napier received a call from an off-duty colleague, Det Chief Insp Nicola Musgrove, at just after 8pm that night.

DCI Musgrove, who had worked with Supt Napier on the Raoul Moat shooting investigation, told him she had been contacted by Det Cons Alison Brown, who was also off-duty and had been the Rathband family's liasion officer after he was shot. …

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