Police in the UK were facing questions over the handling of the hunt for fugitive gunman Raoul Moat today after it emerged that several opportunities were missed to intercept the former nightclub bouncer.
Officers were aware that the 37-year-old had visited the home of friend of Andy Mcallister on Saturday night.
But they were not at the Newcastle address when Moat returned in the early hours of Monday to deliver a “murder statement”, in which he declared war on the police.
Moat used the note to warn: “The public need not fear me but the police should as I won’t stop till I’m dead.”
Mr Mcallister told The Sun that it took officers “more than an hour” to arrive after he dialled 999.
“He left when he heard a police helicopter,” he said. “He told me to contact the police and I rang them straight away. It took more than an hour for them to arrive, despite me ringing three or four times.
“They knew he’d been to my house once – I thought they would have been watching.”
Moat’s visit to his friend’s house on Saturday night came hours before Pc David Rathband, 42, was shot.
In another clue to his whereabouts, an ex-girlfriend of Moat spoke of his love of the Rothbury countryside.
“It’s his favourite place in the whole world,” said Yvette Foreman, 35, who dated the former nightclub doorman when they were both in their early 20s.
“I told police as soon as I heard he was on the loose he’d be heading for here and they did nothing.”
It was not until Monday night that detectives released details of a black Lexus car linked to Moat that they were trying to locate.
The vehicle was found yesterday in a car park beside the River Coquet.
But Graham Noble, of Thrum Mill Farm, Rothbury, said the Lexus had been in the village all day on Monday, adding: “If they had released the details earlier, somebody would have said.”
As the rapid sequence of events unfolded, police revealed that they were warned Moat might be planning to harm his ex-partner Samantha Stobbart the day before he allegedly shot her and her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, in the early hours of Saturday.
Northumbria Police temporary chief constable Sue Sim said the warning came from Durham Prison, where Moat was held until Thursday.
In another development, investigators said Moat dialled 999 just 12 minutes before attacking Pc Rathband and threatened to shoot a police officer. He rang back 50 minutes afterwards.