A POLICEMAN based in Hitchin has spoken of his sense of loss over the suspected suicide last week of PC David Rathband who was shot and blinded by crazed gunman Raoul Moat in Northumbia in 2010.

PC Gareth Rees, 36, a collision investigator with the road policing unit covering Herts and Beds, was himself severely injured in 2008 when a car hit him as he was putting out cones after an accident on the A505 between Baldock and Royston.

Both legs were shattered, his left femur was in four pieces and the bone had gone through his skin. Both lungs collapsed during surgery.

PC Rees spend weeks in hospital and months recovering from his injuries.

He felt compelled to do something when he heard about the injuries sustained by PC Rathband and got in touch with him.

The pair spoke on the phone and developed a friendship. When PC Rees jokingly suggested they do the London Marathon 2011 together PC Rathband immediately agreed.

They met up several times before the marathon and on the day PC Rees completed the run in six hours 39 minutes and PC Rathband came in 10 minutes later. They had been talking about attempting the New York Marathon in November this year.

The last time they were with each other was at the London Marathon but they kept in regular touch.

“He became a very good friend over an unfortunately short time,” said Pc Rees. “We used to keep in regular contact, just catching up with our lives.

“He was so supporting of me with my recovery. He had a knack of knowing just what to say, what buttons to push and that really helped me in ways I can’t explain.”

The last time they spoke was just before PC Rathband went to Australia in December to visit his brother.

He returned at the beginning of last week and his body was found at his home on Wednesday night.

PC Rees knew that Pc Rathband really enjoyed himself in Australia and was making plans for his future in the UK, which made his death “more shocking”.

“He was just a cognitive, strong individual who had a way of dealing with things with a sense of humour.

“I will miss him. Just being able to pick up the phone and just talk rubbish with him I will miss.”