Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Last stand of crazed gunman

7 July 2010, 08:51

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Police are continuing their hunt for crazed gunman Raoul Moat on Wednesday morning, who is thought to be holed up in woodland armed with two shotguns and enough ammunition to slaughter dozens of officers.

The deranged former bouncer, who has vowed to keep killing officers until he dies, was believed to be lying in wait in a secret hide-out.

But there are growing fears that he may have slipped through the net after dumping a car that he had been using to try to throw police off the scent.

On Tuesday night armed police surrounded a stone cottage 5km outside Rothbury after a young family returned home to find their garden shed had been broken into.

Alarmed and frightened, the couple and their two young children drove to friend Robert Storer's home nearby after making the discovery around 10pm.

Storer, a kitchen and bathroom retailer, then accompanied the father back to the cottage to carry out a proper check. They found the downstairs doors secured and the property seemingly undisturbed.

But when the family returned to the house together 30 minutes later, a patio door leading from the master bedroom to a balcony had been opened, when it had previously been closed, and curtains which had been left open were now closed.

Police spent 70 minutes outside the home with guns trained on the three-bedroom property.

An officer could be heard shouting: "Armed police - show yourself now" and heat-seeking equipment appeared to have been trained on the walls to detect possible life sources inside before officers eventually moved in.

The convoy of three armed response vehicles and a police riot van left the scene a short time later after ruling the alert was a false alarm.

Storer told the Daily Mail officers had initially classified the call over the shed break-in as "silver", or medium priority, and had not attended the scene until he called for a second time after the family discovered the bedroom patio door had been opened.

He said that a week ago, before Moat went on the rampage, the family had called 999 to report prowlers in their garden.

There has not been a definite sighting of the 37-year-old since he went on the run on Saturday after shooting his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and killing her new lover Chris Brown in Gateshead, and blasting a PC.

On Tuesday the village of Rothbury in Northumberland was invaded by police helicopters and 300 armed officers as the net closed in.

Terrified schoolchildren were locked in their classroom as a mystery man believed to be the gunman was seen lurking nearby, and police dealt with a string of other possible sightings - but never located the gunman.

Despite the fears that he could have fled the area, senior police sources said they still believed he was near Rothbury.

In a day of dramatic developments officers swooped on two suspected accomplices who had been masquerading as hostages and held them on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

On Monday detectives had been so concerned for the safety of the men that they requested that the Daily Mail did not publish any details after Moat boasted that he had taken hostages, taunting police through phone calls and an astonishing 49-page handwritten confession.

Police said a white male and an Asian male were "potentially being controlled by Mr Moat" and a news blackout was necessary to "mitigate any potential threat to them".

But later the two men were found safe and well in Rothbury without their so-called captor, and were arrested.

The focus of the police operation swept to Rothbury, about 50km north of the scene of the shootings in Gateshead, after Moat's black Lexus saloon was found parked in an industrial car park.

The burly bodybuilder is believed to have fled on foot after abandoning his car in the village.

Police set up a exclusion zone around Rothbury as they searched a number of farms and abandoned buildings.

Armed officers stormed one dilapidated empty farm outbuilding where he and his two suspected accomplices had been hiding out.

Farmer Jessica Taylor alerted police after seeing smoke coming from fields where the killer is believed to have been camping.

She went to Rothbury police station at 9.30am on Tuesday but it was an hour and a half before armed officers arrived to investigate her report.

The gunman knows Rothbury well after dating a teenager from the village 16 years ago. Moat was 21 and on a camping trip when he met Yvette Foreman, then 19.

On Monday, fearing for her own safety Foreman contacted police, only to find her own home raided on Tuesday morning by armed police looking for Moat.

She said: "He would definitely know his way round. It's his favourite place in the whole world. He knows the woods and hills like the back of his hand."

She said police took away some old letters from Moat, one containing a violent fantasy in which he described plans to batter a rival with a baseball bat.

Moat became Britain's most wanted man after he shot his ex-partner and killed her new lover in the early hours of Saturday.

The father of three targeted Stobbart, 22, hours after he was released from Durham Prison where he had served a short sentence for assault.

She was left in a critical condition and karate instructor Brown, 29, was killed in the shooting in the Scafell area of Birtley, Gateshead.

Almost 24 hours later, married father of two PC David Rathband, 42, was shot in his patrol car at a roundabout in East Denton, Newcastle. He was in a critical condition on Tuesday night.

It emerged on Tuesday night that police had missed a golden opportunity to catch the gunman.

After learning that he had visited the home of close friend Andy Mcallister on Saturday evening they chose not to watch the property.

Had they done so they would have seen Moat returning in the early hours of Monday carrying his 49-page "murder statement".

It was during that second visit that Moat asked his friend to hand the lengthy letter to detectives before bidding goodbye one final time.

Mcallister, a 45-year-old father of five, said: "He told me, 'That's everything you need to know - that's my murder statement. I will keep killing until I am dead.'

"He left when he heard a police helicopter. He told me to contact the police and I rang straight away. It took more than an hour for them to arrive, despite me ringing three or four times. They knew he'd been to my house once - I thought they would have been watching."

Mcallister, from Newcastle, said Moat first visited him on Saturday evening - just hours before he shot PC David Rathband, 42.

"I spent all night seeing his face flash up on the news. Then, suddenly, he was on my doorstep," said Mcallister.

"There was absolutely no emotion. But that made it all the more chilling. I told him he should hand himself in but he said no. He asked for a mobile phone to make calls to police. He left after an hour."

Police questioned Mcallister for most of Sunday. But crucially they failed to have officers watching his home in case Moat returned.

And on Monday at 1.30am he did precisely that - this time asking his friend to hand police his murder statement before releasing a copy to the media. - Daily Mail

The Star

Comments by Sonny

The Gary Beuthin syndrome!

Steroids and attitude!

This would only take two specialists to settle the score!

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