Gunman Raoul Moat may have used a network of underground storm drains to evade capture from the police.
A construction worker who worked on the installation of the drains system in Rothbury, where Moat shot himself dead early today during a stand-off with police, said Moat could have spent hours underneath the feet of officers frantically hunting for him.
The builder, who would give his name only as Jason, said the circular pipes are big enough for a man of Moat’s stature. And he said the pipes may have worked as a shield against heat detectors used by police during the week-long manhunt.
“He could have made his way up from the riverbank to the main street using the pipes,” said Jason.
“They are round pipes which lead to the river, they’re not very long. He could crouch down and get through there.
“He may have come out of a manhole cover near to the main street. A man of his size could have easily pushed the lid off with his shoulder.”
The storm drains, which run under the main street of the village and out to the riverbank, were updated by Jason and his colleagues last year after severe floods swept the village in September 2008.
He said that a number of families in the village play in the drains with their children.
“If he was fishing on the river he would have known about the drains. He probably would have seen children going in and out of them,” Jason added.
Moat managed to evade police capture for almost a week, sparking a huge manhunt involving police officers from 15 forces, Scotland Yard sharpshooters and armoured 4x4 cars.
An RAF Tornado was also deployed to utilise wartime technology in a bid to find the gunman.