Archive for the ‘Raoul Moat’ Category

Saturday 10 July 2010 15.46 BST

For a time it seemed as if Raoul Moat might come quietly. It had gone midnight and Britain’s most wanted man was sitting cross-legged beside the river Coquet, looking relaxed as he sipped a bottle of water under temporary police floodlights.

For almost five hours the former nightclub bouncer had been talking, sometimes passionately, sometimes softly, to a three-strong specialist police negotiating team.

At 12.10am today Moat appeared placated; a satisfactory outcome to the most sophisticated manhunt ever conducted in Britain seemed to be within the grasp of the police.

But as the drizzle worsened and the Northumbria chill set in, Moat became noticeably more anxious. Witnesses from the terraced homes in Rothbury bordering the strip of meadow where the talks were taking place heard shouting. Shortly after 1am a female negotiator politely tried to pacify the gunman and his rising temper.

Throughout the six hours of negotiations that preceded the tragic finale, officers had attempted to befriend Moat, addressing him only as Raoul while repeatedly offering assurances he would not come to any harm.

Moat kept telling them he had to nothing to live for. “I haven’t got a dad,” he said an hour into the talks, referring to the fact that he had never known his real father. The negotiators would have been briefed that the reported comments from his mother last week that she would rather see him dead would have gravely undermined his desire to live.

Just before 9pm, 100 minutes into the negotiations that would end with him fatally shooting himself, Moat was overheard telling police “nobody cares about me”. Psychological profiles had portrayed the 37-year-old as a fragile character who felt alone in the world. Now, in his own words,he was confirming their projections.

The conciliatory approach adopted by police continued, officers empathising with Moat that they understood he had endured a “bad year” in reference to his spell in prison and the loss of his girlfriend Samantha Stobbart to Chris Brown, 29, who, almost a week earlier, he had shot dead with the weapon he would later turn on himself.

Throughout the negotiations, Moat never let go of his sawn-off shotgun. For most of the talks the former fugitive steadfastly pointed the weapon at his own neck.

In turn, a squad of 10 trained snipers crouched in firing positions behind the negotiators. During the early stages of the talks one witness counted eight weapons trained upon the suicidal gunman.

At 10.40pm an unmarked car was allowed through the inner police cordon blocking the B6341 that runs parallel – 50 metres north – to where the negotiations were taking place. Its driver was Moat’s best friend, Tony Laidler. Here, on the banks of the Coquet the pair had spent many an afternoon fishing during happier times. A photograph last week showing Moat proudly holding his catch of the day had been taken by Laidler.

Moat’s friend was led through the cordon to help persuade him to surrender. Some reports indicate Laidler may have even tried to convince officers that Moat’s shotgun contained no ammunition. The police could not afford to believe him. Laidler is thought to have last spoken with Moat by phone on Tuesday, three days into the search.

Bizarrely, minutes before Laidler’s arrival, another fishing friend, footballer Paul Gascoigne had also turned up, carrying a can of lager and a fishing rod.

The 43-year-old appeared to suggest he had brought the wanted man a “can of lager, some chicken, a mobile phone and something to keep warm”.

“He is willing to give in now. I just want to give him some therapy and say ‘come on Moaty, it’s Gazza’.

“He is alright – simple as that – and I am willing to help him. I have come all the way from Newcastle to Rothbury to find him, have a chat with him. I guarantee, Moaty, he won’t shoot me. I am good friends with him.”

A slurring Gascoigne, who had been attending an all-day funeral wake, was politely turned away.

Throughout the negotiations witnesses described Moat’s body language as veering from seeming resignation to high agitation.

For the first hour or so Moat was forced to lie flat on his stomach by the riverbank. Later, he was allowed to get up on his knees, where the 190cm, 108kg (6ft 3in, 17 stone) gunman could be seen rocking from side to side to relieve the pressure on his limbs. After 9pm he was allowed to stand up, still with the shotgun to his neck, a move that offered police better sight of their captive. Around an hour later Moat sat down, his demeanour appearing to have stabilised, before deciding to stand up again around 1am as his temper turned ragged in the countdown to his death. At times, he could be heard screaming at officers who were careful to remain 10 metres from him.

A female negotiator could be overheard taking the lead in attempts to becalm him.

James Matthews, who lived close enough to hear a number of exchanges between Moat and the police, said at some points even she sounded “animated and emotional”.

The end came quickly. A single gunshot rang out at 1.15am followed by a chorus of screams and shouts from the direction of the riverbank. Residents who had gathered behind the police barricades 100 metres to the east and west gasped in shock.

Officers nearby, however, knew that a lone shot indicated Moat had fired it himself. Any shot directed at police would have precipitated a volley of fire; their rules of engagement stipulating that action could only be sanctioned if Moat aimed at an officer.

Even now, however, disturbing questions present themselves. It emerged today that one officer fired a taser at Moat during the critical final moments of the negotiations, and investigators are already focusing on whether the high-voltage shot was fired the instant before Moat took his own life. Experts from the Independent Police Complaints Commission will also be examining statements from one witness who claims officers rushed the gunman in the final fraught moments before the gunshot.

Undisputable, however, is the speed with which police and paramedics gathered around Moat as he bled from a fatal head shot. He arrived at Newcastle General hospital at 2am where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

For the negotiating team, it was a traumatic denouement to a draining task. They had succeeded in averting the murder of a police officer or member of the public, but Northumbria’s strategy was predicated on bringing Moat safely into custody and the inquest into how he managed to dictate the terms of his own fate has begun.

Reverend Peter McConnell, senior force chaplain for Northumbria police, is among those who will be tasked with comforting those officers involved. “My job is to keep morale up, spirits high,” he said two hours before Moat was spotted at 7.20pm yesterday, scurrying along the riverbank towards the village. Some accounts suggest he was being pursued, others that he simply walked into a couple of police officers patrolling the Coquet. Witness Margaret Blanchard told how, moments before she was caught, she came across a “grubby” looking man walking by the river, a distinctive mohican haircut visible beneath his baseball cap.

What is clear is that as news that Moat had been apprehended broke on the police radio network, pandemonium erupted among the 200 or so officers from 15 forces gathered in the two-mile exclusion zone surrounding the village. In the ensuing chaos, two squad cars collided outside the Queen’s Head pub. Messages were broadcast from the force headquarters in Ponteland, 7 miles south of Rothbury, telling the public to stay indoors. Scores of armed officers were scrambled from across the region – units were still arriving three and a half hours into the negotiations. Urgent warnings for the public to stay indoors were routinely ignored as tensions mounted among Rothbury residents and small crowds spilled from the village’s four pubs. Across the river a wedding party at the Coquetvale Country House hotel cranked into top gear, apparently blind to the unfolding drama in the river valley below.

Some of the guests will have been nursing hangovers today, but for the remainder of Rothbury’s 2,000 occupants the events of the last week are likely to prove harder to shift.

The village was oddly quiet today; the main approach to the town still cut off as police continue forensic work on the riverbank where Moat killed himself.

A white tent over the site of the shooting was visible through mesh screening around flood damage repairs being done to the main bridge. Residents and members of the media took turns to lift a flap and glimpse police coming and going from squad cars parked at the other end of the meadow.

A scattering of shoppers on the High Street, where Moat was spotted just two days ago, were overseen by dozens of police. Residents, though, said it was a huge relief that the the siege atmosphere of the last week had finally gone.

“It’s just great to be able to bring the children down here to the town centre,” said lawyer Helen Woodford, who moved to Rothbury two years ago with her husband, Martin, “for the peace and quiet”.

“Since then things have never stopped happening,” she said. “Snow, floods and now to cap everything, this. It’s our youngest child’s first birthday today so I’m just grateful this didn’t happen a year ago.”

Martin Woodford, also a lawyer, said: “It’s a relief, although sad that they didn’t succeed in avoiding a death. We’ve found the police very good and helpful, though there are clearly questions to be asked about the investigation. But it’s always easy to be critical with hindsight. Let’s wait and see what the independent inquiry turns up.”

Investigators began arriving at the scene of the shooting today, combing the grassland nearby for clues as to the chronology of events leading up to Moat’s death. Close by, officers combed the large culvert which winds beneath the centre of Rothbury, helping relieve the Coquet after heavy rain. This is where many believe Moat hid, using a network of underground storm drains to evade officers and detection from thermal imaging technology.

A construction worker who worked on the installation of Rothbury’s drains system said Moat could have spent hours literally hiding beneath the feet of officers looking for him.

The builder, who would give his name only as Jason, said the circular pipes were big enough for a man of Moat’s build.

“He could have made his way up from the riverbank to the main street using the pipes.

“If he was fishing on the river he would have known about the drains, he probably would have seen children going in and out of them,” he said.

A group of children admitted they knew of the drainage complex as an unofficial playground as they watched officers trooping down its stepped entrance.

Police, though, would not confirm that Moat knew of it from his frequent visits to the town as a child. Across the river, loom the famed woodlands of the National Trust’s Cragside estate. Just 24 hours earlier, its gardens were at the centre of one of the biggest manhunts in British criminal history. Today, it remained closed because of police follow-up searches, the closing acts of a week Rothbury will never forget.



using the number/letter grid:

1      2      3       4       5       6      7      8      9
A      B     C       D       E       F      G      H      I
J      K      L      M      N       O      P      Q      R 
S      T      U      V      W      X      Y      Z


A = 1              J = 1              S = 1

B = 2              K = 2             T = 2

C = 3              L = 3             U = 3

D = 4              M = 4            V = 4

E = 5              N = 5            W = 5

F = 6              O = 6             X = 6

G = 7              P = 7             Y = 7

H = 8              Q = 8             Z = 8

I = 9               R = 9

Raoul Thomas Moat

91633 286411 4612             57

his path of destiny/how he learned what he was here to learn = 57 = Condolences.  Heartbreaker. 

Raoul Moat

91633 4612           35

for his common name, his path of destiny/how he learned what he was here to learn = Warn.  Warning.  Threatening.  Imminent.  Weary.  Preemptive.  Prevent.  Stop.  Quit.  Give up. 


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