Moat Taser ‘could only cause startle response’

Raoul Moat
Raoul Moat

THE Taser round that hit Raoul Moat before he fired his shotgun, ending the six-hour siege on Rothbury Riverside last year, would only cause him to shoot himself if he was already intending to do it, the inquest into his death heard.

On the final day of evidence at the Newcastle Crown Court inquiry yesterday, Dr Ian Schofield, a neurophysiology specialist, said that he had no evidence for an electrical discharge from the X-Rep Taser round but if it had discharged it could have caused a startle response.

“If there was an intention to perform an action, this may be precipitated by the startle effect,” he said.

“This could only pre-empt an action for which there was a pre-existing conscious intent.”

He later agreed that the reaction was similar to a sprinter false-starting.

The 10-man jury heard that while the ‘extremely painful’ effect of either the initial or full electrical discharge, for which there was no evidence, could be muscle contraction it would probably not affect the right arm as the round hit his left forearm and the current would most likely not flow to his other arm.

However, the startle response, like when dropping an unexpectedly hot object, could affect the right arm – the one holding the trigger.

But evidence already heard, that Moat moved the shotgun away from his head before firing, would be too slow a reaction to be the startle effect.

Dr Schofield said: “The response would happen virtually straight away, in perhaps a tenth or two-tenths of a second.

“If he pulled the trigger due to the startle effect, it would be almost contemporaneous.”

Moving the gun away would be ‘too complex an action’.

Dr Schofield also agreed that it was more likely he would open his hand than clench his fist, like pulling a trigger.

The inquest also heard that whether an electrical discharge or the impact of the round caused the muscles to contract, the point of impact on the inside of the left forearm would suggest that the shotgun, held as it was described at the side of Moat’s head, would potentially be moved down, away from the head due to the flexion of the muscles in the arm.

When asked, Dr Schofield said: “I think in all probability it would, as the muscles tend to move to the side as well.”

However he added that it was difficult to be certain.

All the evidence has now been heard and the inquest continues on Monday when Newcastle coroner David Mitford will sum up for the jury.

l Did Taser work? – Page 5