BEING shot and blinded by gun maniac Raoul Moat was the "first step" in the series of events that led to Constable David Rathband killing himself, a coroner has ruled.

The Northumbria Police traffic officer, who became a national hero following the shooting, grew desperate after the collapse of his marriage and struggled to cope with his sudden and irreversible disability.

He was found hanging at his home 20 months after he was shot while on duty.

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Some friends and members of his family believed Northumbria Police could have done more to support him. However, coroner Eric Armstrong urged those involved in the hearing not to blame themselves.

After concluding the 44-year-old took his own life, he said: "The circumstances of his injuries (inflicted by Moat) are well-known.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, not to view the infliction of those injuries as the first step in a series which culminated in his death."

The inquest heard Mr Rathband had made threats to kill himself and told his lover he attempted to hang himself but could not go through with it.

But his widow Kath and police colleagues she alerted, while concerned for his well-being, did not consider him at immediate risk of suicide.

Mr Rathband was found hanging at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29, 2012.

The coroner urged people not to look back and consider what they could have done differently. He said: "Decisions were taken which, at the time, seemed appropriate and were justified at the time."

In a statement after the hearing, Mrs Rathband thanked family and friends for their "unwavering" support.