Gunman’s alleged accomplices had every opportunity to turn him in, trial is told

RAOUL Moat and two men claiming to be his hostages were seen in south east Northumberland several times during the week-long manhunt last July before the gunman turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide.

Karl Ness, 26, and Quram Awan, 23, are on trial at Newcastle Crown Court accused of helping the fugitive killer stay on the run and track down police officers to shoot.

The pair deny the attempted murder of Blyth police officer David Rathband, shot by Moat in July as the pair waited in Awan’s black Lexus, ready to drive off, a jury heard.

Ness, of Brookside, Dudley, and Awan, of Rowley Street, Blyth, also deny conspiracy to murder, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and robbing a Seaton Delaval fish shop.

Ness faces a further charge of the murder of martial arts instructor Chris Brown, 29.

Mr Brown was shot dead by Moat in Birtley, Gateshead, just before the gunman’s ex-partner Samantha Stobbart, 22, was gunned down and seriously injured.

Ness is said to have been in a van nearby while Moat waited for an opportunity to shoot Mr Brown, Miss Stobbart’s new partner.

Moat believed Mr Brown to be a police officer, and it was that belief that is said to have led him to declare war on the police.

After Moat was released from Durham Prison at the beginning of July, he is said to have boasted to a barber cutting his hair: “I have got a few things to do and I’ve got a few a***s to kick. I’ll probably be back inside by Friday”.

On Monday, the jury heard from Miss Stobbart, the first witness to be called to give evidence.

She and Mr Brown were walking towards her home when Moat, who had been lying in wait beneath the open window of a friend’s home, attacked them.

When prosecutor Robert Smith asked whether Moat had anything in his hands, she whispered: “A gun, a gun. I did not see the gun at first, then I seen him load it.”

Moat then raised the sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun and blasted Mr Brown in the chest.

Miss Stobbart said: “Chris went down to the grass, and I followed him. I remember Raoul was shouting. I don’t know what.

“He pointed the gun at my legs, and I ran into the house. I was panicking because my daughter was upstairs, and I was running about the house looking for the keys, and I did not know what they looked like.

“I heard two shots. When I looked out the window, it was done.

“I didn’t see Raoul come towards the house, I was concentrating on Chris. I just heard shouting and, before I knew it, I got shot.”

The jury has been told how unsuspecting shoppers in Asda in Ashington may have passed Awan as he picked up an FM radio on the day of the first shootings, so that Moat could follow the hunt for him from the campsite he had set up near Rothbury.

Mr Smith told the court that Awan and Ness had “every opportunity” to hand themselves over to police and alert them to the whereabouts of Moat before he shot Pc Rathband.

The jury heard how both Awan and Ness had delivered letters to family members saying they were being held hostage by “the Birtley gunman” and warned them not to contact the police.

He said the pair then provided “deliberate and intentional support” to Moat in locating a police officer.

“Awan was driving and Ness lent his encouragement to Moat on July 4 in his search for police officers to shoot and kill,” said Mr Smith.

Moat made a phone call to Northumbria Police just minutes before Pc Rathband, now living in Cramlington, was shot as he sat in his patrol car at the A1-A69 roundabout in the west end of Newcastle.

In the call, he told them that he was about to shoot a police officer, saying: “You will get your chance to kill us. I’m going to give you the chance for I am hunting for officers now.”

Mr Smith added: “At 12.31am, the prosecution say the three men were successful in locating a police officer for Moat to shoot. That was Pc David Rathband.

“Raoul Moat got out with the gun and made his way up the slip road. Pc Rathband was aware of someone approaching and then saw a figure running towards him.

“He recognised Moat immediately from the picture he had looked at on the police system when he began his shift.

“The next thing Pc Rathband saw was the barrel of the gun. He then saw a bright flash from the gun.

“Ness and Awan had waited for Moat to carry out the shooting with the engine of the Lexus running to facilitate a quick getaway.

“It drove off at speed from the traffic car in which Pc Rathband lay seriously injured and blinded for life.”

Later that evening, Moat stormed into the Delaval Fish Bar in Astley Road, Seaton Delaval, brandishing the same weapon and making off with £100 in cash.

It was with the money from the robbery, Mr Smith said, that the trio bought three meals and three McFlurry ice creams in McDonald’s in Ashington shortly afterwards.

Mr Smith said Awan had spotted a police car drive past as the trio sat in the fast-food chain’s car park in Lintonville Parkway eating their meals.

He said: “Moat was deliberating whether to shoot a police officer, but he decided against it as he was too busy eating his ice cream.”

The black Lexus was subsequently seized by police, and Awan and Ness were later arrested while walking on a public road near Rothbury after being spotted by a police helicopter.

The jury heard that while Ness was on remand in Holme House Prison, a note was found in his shoe. It was addressed to his girlfriend and instructed her in his version of events after Moat had carried out the first shootings.

The trial, expected to last another four weeks, continues.