A HUNTINGDONSHIRE band who worked alongside Pc David Rathband to raise money for injured emergency services personnel have paid tribute to the late police officer.

Stephen Bottomley and Graham Buxton of The Strawheads said they were devastated to hear of Pc Rathband's death on Wednesday evening in Blyth, Northumberland.

Initial reports suggest the 44-year-old hanged himself as he was unable to cope with depression brought on by his loss of sight and the breakdown of his marriage.

Pc Rathband was shot in the face by killer Raoul Moat at point-blank range in July 2010, and separated from his wife Kath in November.

Pop/folk duo The Strawheads had raised money for Pc Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation with their festive tune But Hey, Happy Christmas, in December 2010.

They were asked to sell the single on behalf of the charity, after sending a sample copy to Pc Rathband.

Mr Bottomley, of Sawtry said: "It is terrible news. I was so upset. Because of his recent tweets people think it is suicide, but quite frankly as far as I am concerned it is another murder on Raoul Moat."

Mr Bottomley, and Mr Buxton, of Ramsey, met the injured policeman and his son Ashley at the Newcastle United v Liverpool Premiership clash at St James's Park just before Christmas 2010.

The band were due to play there, but their performance was pulled at the last-minute. At the time, Mr Bottomley said Pc Rathband had been "generous and magnanimous", and had put everyone at their ease.

Speaking to The Hunts Post yesterday, Mr Bottomley added: "He never forgave Raoul Moat. A lot of people in those awful circumstances might have become spiritual and forgiven Moat, but he didn't. David said he was an evil man and he would never forgive him.

"We are really proud to have been associated with [the Blue Lamp Foundation] and to have met David."

The Strawheads have no plans to re-release their single.