Fugitive tries to justify murder in letter to ex

FUGITIVE gunman Raoul Moat attempted to justify the murder of his ex-girlfriend’s new partner in a letter left for police at his moorland hideout, it was revealed yesterday.

An eight-page handwritten note left for Samantha Stobbart explained Moat, 37, believed the victim was a police officer.

It was found by police searching countryside around Rothbury, in Northumbria, where the former bouncer has been living rough.

Karate instructor Chris Brown was gunned down in the Scafell area of Birtley, Gateshead, in the early hours of Saturday.

The fatal shooting, in which Stobbart suffered critical injuries, sparked a huge manhunt for Moat as he declared war on police.

As Moat taunted police in a series of phone calls and a rambling letter, he then shot PC David Rathband, 42, as he sat in his patrol car in East Denton, Newcastle.

Speaking to the media yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson said he had a “gut feeling” that Moat remains on the run near Rothbury armed with one or two weapons and ammunition.

He said a £10,000 (about €12,000) reward is on offer for information leading to Moat’s arrest as police investigate hundreds of tip-offs from the public.

Adamson said investigators believe others have helped Moat evade police as the gunman travelled around Northumbria.

He added that two men arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder — and who may have been with Moat — have helped police.

The senior detective said he now believes Moat was responsible for a robbery at a chip shop in Blyth on Monday night.

He said: “We believe Mr Moat to be a measured individual who appears to carefully plan his actions and is comfortable in an outdoor environment.

“While the search is now focusing on the Rothbury area, I am mindful of the potential for Mr Moat to have fled the area.

“With this in mind, and given the urgency to locate and detain Mr Moat, we have decided to offer a £10,000 reward for information which leads directly to Mr Moat’s detention.”

The police manhunt continues to focus on countryside around Rothbury.

Specialist firearms officers, including snipers armed with high velocity weapons, have flooded the area.

Police recovered a tent and other items, including the latest letter, from a “secluded spot” on the outskirts of Rothbury.

Adamson said the content of the letter is “very much personal between the two” but police have not yet given it to Stobbart.

He said: “In it, Mr Moat reasserts his belief that Samantha’s partner was a police officer. I repeat this is not the case.”

Officers are desperate to capture Moat without further loss of life but he has threatened to kill police.


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