Moat 'would have passed his gun over to police', says friend

Gunman Raoul Moat would have eventually surrendered to police and “passed his gun over”, one of his friends said today.

Tony Laidler went to Rothbury on Saturday in a bid to help his friend but said police made him leave without giving him the chance to speak to Moat.

He told GMTV: “I think I could have actually got him out of it because he didn’t want to be shot.

“He was actually walking through the town so people could see him because he was actually sick of what was going on.

“He wanted to be caught.”

Mr Laidler, who knew Moat, 37, for more than 30 years, criticised police for twice firing a Taser at the fugitive.

He said: “I think if police didn’t try and rush him with their Tasers he would have probably passed his gun over in the end anyway.”

Moat’s brother also criticised the use of Tasers and said his death was like a “public execution”.

Angus Moat, 39, said his brother was “no psycho” and may have killed himself in an “involuntary reaction” to being hit with the stun gun.

He also said police would not let him intervene during the tense six-hour stand-off which ended with a fatal gunshot at 1.15am on Saturday, and is convinced he could have prevented his death.

His comments came as it appeared former nightclub bouncer Moat may have used a network of underground storm drains in Rothbury, Northumberland, to evade capture for nearly a week.

He blasted himself in the head after being cornered on a riverbank in the town and telling police that nobody cared about him.

Tax officer Mr Moat said his brother was a sensitive person who may have been suffering a breakdown when he shot his former girlfriend, killed her new boyfriend and then turned his gun on a police officer.

“He was just sitting there in the open, in no cover, crying about the fact he had no family and no dad and that nobody loved him,” he said.

“That was not true. He had loads of people but died believing he had none.”

Mr Moat said he loved his brother dearly although his actions had been “horrendous” and felt powerless as he watched the “horror story” unfold on Friday evening.

“As it was getting dark I thought, ’It’s all hotting up’.

“The media aren’t helping. You’ve got this constant round-the-clock rolling news. It’s like, you know, they’re working up to what could be a public execution in modern Britain of my little brother.”

Mr Moat, of Newcastle, had not seen his brother for several years but immediately contacted police and offered to talk to him, only to be told it could make the situation “more volatile”.

He questioned why two electronic stun guns were used in the effort to bring Moat down and asked why no marks from the Tasers were mentioned in the post-mortem examination report, which gave his cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head.

He suggested the shock from the stun gun may have caused Moat to pull the trigger on the shotgun that he had been holding to his head throughout the stand-off.

Mr Moat said: “I’m thinking – you discharge a Taser on a man who is soaked to the skin, in a rainstorm, who has got a gun pointed at his head, with his finger on the trigger?

“He’s going to go into muscle spasm and there’s going to be an involuntary reaction in every muscle in his body including his finger muscles, which are on the trigger of the gun.

“He’s going to have an involuntary reaction and pull the trigger, and he’s going to die and he might not necessarily have ever wanted to.”

The manhunt was sparked on July 3 after Moat’s former girlfriend Sam Stobbart, 22, was shot and her 29-year-old boyfriend Chris Brown killed in Gateshead.

The next morning Pc David Rathband, 42, was shot in an unprovoked attack at a roundabout in Newcastle.

“What he did was totally wrong, totally monstrous and I am not trying to defend or excuse it,” said Mr Moat.

“But this was not a case of some guy just deciding to be a psycho gun nut because that is not what my brother was.

“Raoul has been made out to be some kind of Terminator, Rambo character, a psycho, and it could not be more untrue.”

He said his brother was “perhaps too sensitive” and may have longed for a stable family unit because of a “fairly dysfunctional background with very little maternal affection”.

The breakdown of his relationship with Miss Stobbart may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, he said.

Staff from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating events leading up to Moat’s death, visited his family yesterday.

The probe will look into why officers used Tasers on Moat during the stand-off and consider whether Northumbria Police took adequate action following a warning from Durham Prison that Moat might intend to harm Miss Stobbart following his release on July 1.

A spokesman for the Prisons Service said last night: “HMP Durham is fully co-operating with the IPCC in this matter.”

Mr Brown’s sister Beckie Njie, 33, who lives in Slough, Berkshire, told the Daily Telegraph the family had “a lot of unanswered questions”.

“Something went wrong and it has cost Chris his life. They should have warned them,” she said.

“How did they allow that to happen when they knew he (Moat) was a danger? That’s what I want to know.”

His father Geoffrey Brown today thanked the police and said the family’s thoughts were with all those affected by the events of the past week.

“As we mourn our son and brother, we are aware that the cowardly act of Moat will affect others, including Moat’s family who will have to live with his actions for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Miss Stobbart is said to be making a good recovery in hospital, while Pc Rathband – whose face was badly injured – was described as “stable and comfortable”.

Police have been carrying out searches in and around Rothbury after it was suggested Moat may have left behind a second weapon.

Cragside House, the National Trust stately home nearby, remained closed to the public.

Assistant Chief Constable Greg Vant said: “There is some intelligence that Raoul Moat may have had more than one weapon and it is only prudent with the safety of the public in mind, to rule out such a possibility.”

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