THE police chief who led the hunt for gunman Raoul Moat has welcomed the verdict on his death.
In a statement issued after the verdict, Chief Constable Sue Sim said: “We welcome the verdict following the detailed presentation of the evidence at the coroner’s court.
“The evidence has been thoroughly and publicly scrutinised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) coroner and the jury.
“Northumbria Police acted legally and proportionately in extremely difficult circumstances.
“Our main objective was always to protect the public from any further injury by Moat. We succeeded in this objective and it is a credit to the police officers and staff from Northumbria Police, and other forces, who put themselves at risk while searching for an armed and extremely dangerous man.
“Our thoughts continue to be with those who have had their lives irreversibly affected by the criminal actions of Moat.
“Raoul Moat chose his path, he decided to murder, attempt to murder and to threaten the lives of the public and police officers. He had many opportunities to hand himself in and face justice, yet he chose not to do so. His victims had no such choice.
“This was an extremely complex and dynamic operation. In the first few days we were also dealing with a potential hostage situation.
“We always wanted to bring him to justice. From the first shootings in Birtley a team of expert negotiators worked tirelessly to build a profile of Moat so they could negotiate with him should the opportunity arise. On the evening of 9 July 2010 the negotiators spent six hours on the riverbank, in terrible conditions and putting themselves at risk, trying to persuade him to give himself up.
“There is substantial evidence to suggest that Moat intended to commit suicide from when he left prison on July 1. He left suicide notes, a dictaphone recording and a letter in which he indicated he did not want to return to prison. He repeated this to negotiators. He never removed the sawn off shot gun from his head throughout the negotiation.
“There has been speculation about why police did not use family and friends to speak to Moat during this time. The situation was extremely volatile and dangerous and the assessment of trained expert negotiators was that it would have been unsafe to introduce anyone into the negotiation with Moat who had not seen him for some time or who may have inflamed the situation.
“Our use of the X-12 shot gun taser was carefully considered by coroner and the jury. The evidence was clear. There were simply no other options available to us to stop Moat from taking his own life, in view of the distance involved.
“While we acknowledge it was a calculated risk based on less than ideal circumstances, the alternative was to stand by and watch Moat kill himself. Our aim is always to protect life including Moat’s life and, although there were no guarantees this tactic would work, it was our one and only chance to bring him to justice.
“There has been much speculation about where Moat may have been hiding. The search was extremely challenging. Not only were we searching in some of the most remote terrain in the UK we were searching for someone who did not want to be found, was armed and prepared to use firearms against the police and public. Moat was hiding in different locations in the Cragside Estate. What is clear is that he received help from friends and associates.
“This was an unprecedented policing operation involving support from 18 other forces and other agencies which clearly demonstrated the professionalism of British Policing.
“Throughout this challenging operation and since the support for police by the local community, especially in Rothbury, has remained constant. The community was thrown into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons yet they have continued to go about their lives in a dignified way. Without the public’s support we could not have succeeded and we are indebted to them.”