“Ten Traits of Serial Killers...They come from deeply troubled families. Typically, they have been abandoned at an early age by their fathers...” Harold Schechter, The Serial Killer Files
Birmingham-born Peter Blake moved to Northumbria in the early 1970s where he found work with the council. It’s also where he met Josephine Moat. Josephine already had one son, Angus, but was separated from the father. Peter courted her and soon he, Josephine and little Angus moved in together into a lovely old cottage in the idyllic village of Longhorsley. Initially, the couple were very happy and enjoyed romantic walks in the countryside together. But the relationship broke down and Peter left, never to return.
However, Josephine was already pregnant. Raoul was born 17th June 1973. He would never know his father. Josephine wouldn’t put Peter’s name down on the birth certificate and when he tried to re-establish contact, she rejected him. Throughout Raoul’s life, Josephine refused to answer his questions about his missing father. Raoul would later fill in the gaps by creating a fantasy where he was born in France to a French father.
“...he was not a monster and was not born evil. He was just a man who had found his breaking point.” Peter Blake
In the early hours of Saturday morning on 3rd July, Moat approached his former partner’s friend’s home. He was armed with a sawn-off shotgun and a bag of homemade bullets. When Samantha Stobbart and her new 29-year-old partner, Christopher Brown, left the house at 2:40am, Samantha saw Moat and screamed a warning. Christopher tried to protect Sam and Moat shot twice at him at close range. Christopher staggered bleeding, defenceless and fell onto the grass. Moat walked up and shot him point blank. Moat didn't know the man he had just killed and believed he had killed a policeman. Christopher Brown was though a father of three.
Moat went after Samantha who had fled back inside. He fired through the window hitting her twice in the stomach. According to Agnes Hornsby, Samantha's grandmother: "[Raoul] said himself the only reason that he shot her where he shot her was so she couldn’t wear a bikini and show other men her figure - that was typical Raoul. Nobody else was allowed to look at Samantha.”
Doctors later had to cut the 22-year-old’s stomach open to examine the extent of her internal organ damage. CCTV captured Moat just once as he sauntered off into the night.
The next morning Moat rang a friend to say that the shootings had lifted a huge cloud off his shoulders and now he’s "full of beans". That afternoon, police announced they were after Raoul Moat. They made 28 arrests while trying to track him down. The shootings occurred just four weeks after gunman Derek Bird killed 12 people in Cumbria and national news channels began speculating that another spree killer was on the loose.
Andy McAlistair, an old friend of Moat's, answered a knock at the door and "nearly s**t [himself]" when he saw the wanted criminal standing there. He tried to persuade Moat to turn himself in and claim the murder was a crime of passion in a ploy to reduce sentence. However, Moat was unimpressed with the plan and left. Andy rang the police...but so did Moat.
On Saturday 4th June at 12:31am he told a 999 operator: “Hello there, this is the gunman from Birtley last night, er, my name is Raoul Moat...um, what I’m phoning about is to tell you exactly why I have done what I have done right? Now my girlfriend has been having an affair behind my back with one of your officers, this gentleman that I shot last night...I am hunting for officers now.”
He had declared war on the police in revenge for a lifetime of perceived persecution. Minutes later Moat spotted an unarmed police patrol officer sat in his car at a roundabout west of Newcastle. The experienced officer knew the intersection was a favourite getaway route for criminals. Video from the police car showed Moat circling in an accomplice's black Lexus. Moat shot twice at 42-year-old father of two, PC David Rathband. He was blinded by the first shot and played dead to avoid being fired at again. After Moat left the scene David used his radio and was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Moat was rushed to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival. On 10th July, at 3:12am, Northumbria Police confirmed that Moat was dead. The manhunt had cost taxpayers £1.5million.
But in keeping with this strange, sad story, some came to praise the memory of Moat. The child-beating, girlfriend-assaulting, murderer was actually held up as an icon by some. One mother, Teresa Bystrom, who had never known him in life, brought her three teenage sons from the South to pay their respects at Moat’s funeral:
Teresa: “I absolutely love the man. I think he’s great."
Interviewer: “You don’t worry about the message that sends to your sons given the crimes that this man committed?”
Teresa: “No, not at all. Not at all."
Interviewer: “You think your sons should use Raoul as a role model?”
Teresa: “Yeah, actually, I do.”
In August that year, the missing father that Moat had blamed for his own failings went public. Peter Blake publicly bore the sins of his son saying: “I’m to blame for everything that happened...I know if I was there for him growing up, he would have turned out very differently. If this story should teach us anything, it’s that boys need fathers.” Unable to help his son in life, he did attend his funeral and carried his son’s coffin. Also that month was the funeral of Moat’s first victim, Christopher Brown. His family asked Samantha Stobbart to stay away.
At the beginning of 2011, Moat’s accomplices stood trial at Newcastle Crown Court. Karl Ness and Qhuram Awan were accused of being part of Moat’s conspiracy to kill policeman. They had aided Moat in securing a weapon, in searching for and locating Samantha, and in helping him getaway.
The trial, like the manhunt, had many bizarre elements: Two people preparing to help a murder had been seen laughing and joking in Tesco’s buying supplies; Moat had supposedly shouted "Wonga" when he robbed the chip shop; they’d nearly killed another policeman but because Moat hadn’t finished his McFlurry, they let the him live.
On 15th March 2011, despite not actually pulling the trigger, Ness was found guilty of murdering Christopher Brown and the attempted murder of Samantha Stobbart. He and Qhuram Awan were found guilty of several other charges including the attempted murder of David Rathband. Awan is recommended to serve a minimum of 20 years. Ness’s minimum is 40 years.
An inquest in September 2011 found that Raoul was not mentally ill. Social media sites celebrating Moat continued to grow. They celebrated Moat as a ‘Robin Hood’ character who stood up to the police. The fact that he’d killed an innocent man who wasn’t police and had escalated his domestic violence into an armed attack on the mother of his child was not highlighted.
A year after the murders, floral tributes to Moat again appeared. Local residents were disgusted. The permanently scarred Samantha wished that more would remember Christopher. David Rathband, the PC blinded by Moat’s shotgun set up the Blue Lamp Foundation, a charity to raise money to help Emergence Service Personnel injured in the line of duty. He was fitted with prosthetic eyes and awarded ‘The Pride of Britain’ award.
His rate of recovery and his resilience amazed everyone. However, Tony Horne, co-author of Rathband's book Tango 190, said: “David had this public persona and he was happy to be in the lime light to keep the case in the memory to raise money for his charity. But behind closed doors, you know, his life was stress and trauma and people didn’t see that."
On the evening of Wednesday 29 February 2012, David Rathband was found hanged at his home. He’d committed suicide. His younger sister said she was heartbroken but not surprised. It was later revealed that the charity he set up might fail to raise the £1 million Rathband had hoped. The economic downturn was blamed.
For Christopher Brown’s mother there is no end: “I still expecting my son to ring me and tell me he’s OK. Even now, so life for me is, just existing.”
On Friday 9th July, seven days after maiming the mother of his child and killing her lover, Moat emerged from the woods surrounding the town of Rothbury holding his sawn off shotgun. Police surrounded him. By this time, a search of Moat’s house had revealed he’d written six suicide notes to friends, associates and social services. One of the notes was to Samantha. It read: “Sam, I can’t go on without you. I love you so much and miss you very, very much...maybe now you’ll see just how much.” There was even a noose in the loft.
The police were determined to stop him ending his life by making one of their officers shoot, a technique known as 'suicide by cop'. An experimental non-approved Taser shotgun, the X12, was authorised for use. It was hoped that it would disable Moat before he could either shoot himself or others.
When police challenged him on the riverside, Moat dropped to the ground and began alternating between holding the gun to his throat and head. He believed it was the end, that that moment was almost inevitable and that most are indifferent to his demise. Moat had never known his father. But in those final hours, his real father made himself known to the police. Peter Blake, 68, said he would talk, for the first time, to his son. But in the following six hours, after making a careful risk assessment, the police decided not to bring him forward. They feared Moat would not believe Peter to be his real father, but someone sent to talk him down. Moat asked to see Samantha Stobbart. This similarly was considered too risky.
In another bizarre element to the story, former international football star and recovering alcoholic Paul Gascoigne came forward to try and talk to Moat: “I’ve brought him a fishing rod, some chicken and a six-pack and got in the back of a taxi with it all...I guarantee Moaty won’t shoot me. I am good friends with him.” At 10:22pm, police stopped Gascoigne at the cordon. He later said he was unaware of the severity of Moat’s crimes and that he wasn't sure if he did know Moat after all.
At 11:30pm food and water were brought to the killer. Just after 1am, rain started to fall. For the armed officers, there was respite as exhausted police were replaced by a fresh rotation. For Moat, there was no such relief. His statements to police become increasingly fatalistic: “It ends in this field tonight.”
On Saturday, after a six-hour standoff, at about 1.15am, Moat raised his shotgun from under his chin to the right side of his head. Police interpreted this as an attempt to commit suicide. They fired two of the experimental Taser guns. One hit him on the arm but the other missed. Moat was not incapacitated and repositioned the gun to the side of his head.
“He heard a long bang and saw a red cloud exit the side of Raoul Moat’s head. He saw him fall backwards into the long grass.” PC Worgan witness statement to Independent Police Complaints Commission
Just 50 minutes after the attempted murder of PC Rathband, Moat taunted the police again. “Are you taking me serious now?...I’m going to destroy a few lives like you’ve destroyed mine...I tell you now I am absolutely not going to stop...you’re going to have to kill me.”
At some point before 2am Karl Ness, an accomplice in the crime spree, knocked on Andy's door to tell him that Moat wanted to see him. Andy tried again to convince Moat to hand himself in, but Moat took his phone instead and gave him pages and pages of his "innermost thoughts". He wanted the police, press and public to know his motivation:
Moat then headed for Northumbria and told the police he had two hostages. However, the hostages were his co-conspirators, Karl Ness and Qhuram Awan, the owner and driver of the black Lexus. The police warn the public that Moat is armed and should not be approached under any circumstances. Extra firearms officer from forces including Cleveland, Humberside, West and South Yorkshire and Cumbria were brought in to join the hunt. Furthermore, Northern Ireland sent 20 armoured cars and the Met police sent 40 armed officers. In total 19 police forces joined the hunt, making one of the biggest British police operations ever mounted.
Samantha came out of her critical condition and begs the father of her child to stop: “Please give yourself up. If you still loved me and our baby you would not be doing this.” But Moat went into a chip shop, threatened the staff and stole £100 at gunpoint. A letter from Moat, promising not to stop until he was dead, was released to the public.
The police found the black Lexus next to some industrial units on the edge of Rothburt, a quiet market town. The three fugitives had split up and Ness and Awan had walked on the main road away from Rothbury. They were tracked by a helicopter and disoriented by a stun grenade before armed police moved in to arrest them. Letters they had written to their families revealed they were willing accomplices rather than hostages.
Just after 11:00am, a two mile exclusion zone was set up in the Rothbury area and residents were advised to stay indoors. It's an area that Moat knows well from camping in his twenties, and he's hoping to lose himself in the dense woodlands, cliffs and undergrowth. Sniper units began combing the area.
The police found a campsite and a Dictaphone on which Moat had excused and justified his actions. He compared his situation to that of King Kong on top of the Empire State Building and to feeling like The Incredible Hulk. He also said the public, as much as the police, were now in his sights.
Press reports about him highlighted his disturbed personality: how he’d disciplined a child by making her stand in the street with a ‘naughty’ sign wearing a jesters hat; how he’d beaten a family pet to death in front of another child. Even his mother, Josephine, joins in his condemnation and said he was better off dead.
Moat wanted revenge on the reporters and threatened to kill one person for each 'inaccurate' report he heard. The press then agreed to report on the manhunt, rather than the man after hearing how precarious the situation was. His brother Angus tried to tell the media that Moat has had a breakdown, that his family hadn't abandoned him and that the killings were out of character. But the blackout was already in force and Moat never heard his sibling’s words of support.
On Wednesday, police offered £10,000 for information leading to Moat’s capture. An RAF Tornado jet equipped with heat seeking equipment circled in the sky. Thursday saw police agree to station officers outside schools. CCTV images showed Moat with his new Mohican hairstyle. Surprisingly, panic didn't grip the quiet, genteel, rural town and the police were able to focus on the manhunt, not on crowd control.
Survival expert and television star Ray Mears was brought in to help the search. He found tracks that potentially belonged to Moat.