Friends ‘helping fugitive gunman’

BRITISH detectives were last night trying to unravel a network of accomplices suspected of harbouring gunman Raoul Moat as he widened his deadly threats from police to the public.

Senior investigators believe the former doorman has been supported by friends who helped him remain a step ahead of one of the biggest police manhunts in living memory.

As the search stretched into its sixth day, police admitted the rugged Northumbria terrain around isolated Rothbury was helping Moat avoid capture.

They revealed two men are being questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender after they were arrested in the area of the village on Wednesday.

Two other alleged accomplices, Karl Ness and Qhuram Awan, appeared before magistrates yesterday accused of being part of Moat’s conspiracy to hunt down and kill policemen.

Police released CCTV images of Moat captured at a branch of B&Q in Newcastle on Friday, hours before he shot his ex-girlfriend and killed her new lover before going on to declare “war” on police.

Officers said the up-to-date images, in which Moat sports a distinctive Mohican-style haircut and tight-fitting bright orange T-shirt, should help the public identify him.

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson, who is leading the inquiry, said all the “intelligence, information and advice” police have points to Moat remaining in countryside around Rothbury.

The senior detective revealed he is now believed to be a “wider threat” to the public as forensic psychologists examine letters written by the gunman to determine who is most at risk.

He warned anyone “assisting, harbouring or helping” the 37-year-old would be arrested and prosecuted as he suggested the fugitive may have access to a mobile phone.

Adamson said there were no named individuals under threat from the rogue gunman and insisted the net continues to close in on Moat.

He added: “I am disappointed that we haven’t located Mr Moat yet and I’m sure all the public hold that view.”

Rothbury remains at the centre of the huge manhunt for Moat, thought to be armed with one or two weapons and a stockpile of ammunition, as armed police search remote buildings and scour moorland.

The fugitive has vowed not to stop killing “’til I’m dead” in a letter to Northumbria Police, who he blames for the loss of his children, girlfriend and liberty.


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