AN unauthorised Taser used by police during Raoul Moat’s last stand on the Rothbury Riverside had been used operationally ‘very, very few times’ worldwide.
At the inquest into his death this morning, Graham Smith, a physicist from what was at the time the Home Office Scientific Development Branch, told the jury that there was not enough data or evidence to say whether the X-Rep Taser would work or not in incapacitating the target, but ‘more often than not it didn’t seem to work.’
The weapon was being evaluated by a joint effort involving the UK, the US and Canada and at a meeting in April 2010, just three months before Moat’s death, the consensus was that ‘there wasn’t enough data to comment on the safety and accuracy’ of the Mark-II round that was by then available.
Asked whether the X-Rep could be effective as a non-lethal weapon, Mr Smith said: “Conceptually it could be, but not in its current configuration.”
However the jury heard that there weren’t other options available to police that would work over the necessary range or with Moat sat in the position he was.
The inquest also heard from pathologist Dr Peter Cooper who carried out a second post mortem examination at the request of Moat’s family.
He said that damage under the skin where a Taser round hit Moat’s left forearm could be a burn, but Dr Cooper could not say if this was due to an electric current or the impact of the round.
He could find no evidence of the skin being punctured by the Taser round’s electric barbs, but did say that the fine needles may not have left a trace that could be found.
Moat died from gunshot wounds to the head that were ‘inevitably fatal’ according to Dr Cooper, which was backed up by evidence from Dr Peter Goode, the consultant on duty at Newcastle General Hospital when Moat was brought in.
His statement said: “We assessed this was a non-survivable shotgun wound to the head.”
The inquest continues.