AS police were cleared of any wrongdoing and a verdict of suicide was returned at killer Raoul Moat’s inquest, the Rothbury community was praised for its support and help over the last year.
Moat died on the banks of the River Coquet in the village in the early hours of July 10, 2010, after shooting himself in the head.
His death came after a week on the run in and around the Coquetdale area and a six-hour stand-off with police.
The normally quiet community was forced into the national and international spotlight during the manhunt and now Northumbria Police Chief Constable Sue Sim has said that without the villagers’ support during that time, police would not have been able to achieve what they did.
“They have been absolutely tremendous in their support of us,” she said.
“They supported the officers that were there at the time and myself and, together with help from the local authority and agencies in and around Rothbury, we were able to successfully deliver the outcome we achieved and without them we couldn’t have done it.
“I am pleased to be an honorary member of the Rothbury community and I think the people there were adamant that Raoul Moat wasn’t going to beat them.
“They got on with their lives and they will continue to do so.”
After hearing three weeks’-worth of evidence at Newcastle Crown Court, a jury of five men and five women, led by coroner David Mitford, returned a verdict of suicide on Tuesday.
It coincided with an announcement from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that police did not commit any misconduct during the Moat manhunt and his death on Rothbury Riverside last July.
Chief Con Sim said that police would have died to bring in Moat and end the Rothbury hunt.
“It was a very very difficult, although tremendously beautiful terrain that all the searches were conducted in,” she said.
“Officers from all over the country had to deal with conditions that they weren’t used to. My officers were able to support them and we had fantastic search teams up there.
“We had 18 police forces involved and every single officer that was there was really taken aback by the support from people in Rothbury and they would have died trying to bring Raoul Moat to justice.”
She added that Moat ‘went to ground very quickly in the Cragside Estate’ when the hunt moved to Rothbury.
“He was moving around at night within Cragside,” she said, which made the search even more difficult.
But she also praised staff at the National Trust property, who co-operated with the searches with ‘professionalism’.
And she congratulated Alnwick Police Inspector Sue Peart and her team for the way they handled the situation with was thrust upon them.
Moat was cornered by police at around 7.25pm on July 10.
After hours of negotiations, during which Moat said ‘it is all going to end here tonight’ two unauthorised X12 Taser rounds were fired at the fugitive.
One hit but failed to have an effect while the second missed.
Moat then shot himself in the temple.
Because of the police involvement in his death an investigation was launched by the IPCC, and while it states that there is no evidence that police committed misconduct there are lessons to be learned.
IPCC Commissioner Nicholas Long said: “It is apparent from all the evidence collected in our investigation that the primary objective of the police was the try to preserve Raoul Moat’s life.
“I fully recognise that within such a dynamic and fast moving operation decisions have to made that don’t always comply with recognised policies and procedures.
“The decision by Northumbria Police to bring in unauthorised weapons in the form of X-Rep Taser was the subject of many questions, both at the time of the incident and during the inquest. Our investigation revealed the clear rationale behind the decision and the fact that Northumbria Police did seek legal advice. The force believed their intention to use whatever means they had to try to capture Moat alive overrode any questions of authorisation. It is recognised that given Moat’s clearly expressed intentions to harm himself and others, the XRep did present an opportunity to use non-lethal force to stop him.”
Chief Con Sim added: “The IPCC report advises us to look at our recording equipment for negotiators and we will be doing that.”
Moat was on the run after shooting his ex-girlfriend Sam Stobbart, executing her new boyfriend Chris Brown, and then blinding PC David Rathband after he declared war on police.