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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Jeremy Armstrong

Harrowing reality of UK's biggest ever manhunt for Raoul Moat from the cop who led it

Police chief Neil Adamson led the biggest manhunt this country has seen, with the pursuit of deranged shotgun killer Raoul Moat.

And now the retired detective chief superintendent has re-lived the emotional rollercoaster for a new TV series based on the week-long drama.

Neil held detailed talks with Lee Ingleby, who plays his younger self in ITV ’s The Hunt for Raoul Moat.

He talked the actor through his experiences, recalling how the 17-stone bully went on the run after murdering a love rival, wounding an ex-girlfriend and blinding traffic officer David Rathband.

He then vanished into open country, living rough around Rothbury, Northumberland, and taunting police with phone calls before he was finally cornered and shot himself.

David Rathband was blinded after being shot by Moat (AFP/Getty Images)

Neil, 57, has seen all three episodes of the series and says its disturbing scenes take him back to the most challenging days of his 30-year career.

“They show when I met David Rathband in hospital and that brought all the emotions back. He was in a terrible state.

“His face was severely swollen and peppered with gunshot wounds.

“He was so brave and asked us to catch Moat. He was still being really professional despite the state he was in.

“I told him – and I meant it – that we would do everything we could.”

Chris Brown was gunned down by Raoul Moat (PA)

Neil praised the fine acting in the story of Moat’s flight from justice and his eventual riverbank suicide.

It began on July 3, 2010, two days after the ex-bouncer was freed from prison. The 37-year-old used a sawn-off shotgun to kill Chris Brown, new partner of ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart. He then shot and wounded Samantha.

Moat hated the police and was driven by insane jealousy of Chris, whom he falsely believed to be a serving officer.

The following night he sneaked up on PC Rathband and blasted him twice in the face at point-blank range. Unable to come to terms with his injuries, the officer killed himself 19 months later.

After the shootings Moat, 6ft 3in and powerfully built, met up with two accomplices driving a black Lexus. That car turned out to be key to the hunt.

Moat's ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart (JK Press)

Neil is pleased the TV drama puts the victims first, with the opening episode showing Chris and Sam’s love story.

He says: “I always think of Chris’s mum Sally. She was so dignified, if frustrated that her son had been forgotten.

“At the time this was a classic case where Moat was the story when actually it should have been the victims.”

The series concentrates on the intense scrutiny Neil and his team were under as on-the-run Moat threatened to shoot members of the public and police.

He says: “Lee portrays the pressure the whole force was under.

Moat shot himself after almost a week on the run (SWNS)

“The eyes of the world were on us. We were worried he had slipped the net.

“The drama shows the doubts we had and how we were challenged in press conferences. The really big test was to hold our nerve.”

In one scene Lee, playing Neil, walks out of a pub as the words ‘Raoul Moat, he’s our mate....he kills coppers’ is being sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.

It’s a dramatic device to show how Moat was glorified by a certain minority – but doesn’t reflect the reality. Neil says: “We never got anywhere near a pub. But that is drama. The pressure we were under is captured well.

“I was going into work at 5am and not leaving until very late. We were sure Moat was hiding somewhere in that huge estate of Cragside and Rothbury.

Matt Stokoe plays Moat in the new drama (ITV STUDIOS)

“When we found his tent we saw he had access to a radio and newspapers.

“He had left a dictaphone message saying he was going to kill a member of the public for every lie he read.

“When we found that, the threat level went through the roof. Up to that point it was a threat against the police.

“In his first call he said he was going to go after officers. Six minutes later he shot David Rathband.

“We knew he was serious and the coverage became feverish. A TV reporter outside our HQ was giving updates at what felt like 10-minute intervals.

Lee Ingelby as Neil Adamson in The Hunt for Raoul Moat (ITV STUDIOS)

“We expressed concerns about some of the reports because Moat was following what was said in the papers and on the radio. This was the biggest UK police operation in the era of 24-hour news. The Sky helicopter was up before us at times.”

Before he shot PC Rathband, Moat had made a shocking call to police on a pay-as-you-go phone saying he was “hunting for officers”.

Neil describes what happened after that: “He parked out of sight of PC Rathband, sneaked up, shot him twice in the face and jumped back in the Lexus. That Lexus was key.

“We put out details and it was spotted by a member of the public.”

Moat’s accomplices were caught on July 7 and the killer fled to open country around Rothbury.

By this stage Northumbria Police had called in help from hundreds of outside officers. Experts, psychologists and even survival guru Ray Mears were involved. Theresa May, then Home Secretary, had regular updates.

Neil says the psychological advice police received was crucial. “They said Moat would show himself unless he had been trained in survival and that is what happened.”

It was a member of the public who spotted him in the end. Neil remembers: “He rang to say ‘That man you’re after, he’s at the end of the street’. It was the moment we had been waiting for.”

The sharp-eyed member of the public received a £10,000 reward.

By now it was the evening of June 9, almost seven days since Moat’s first shot rang out.

Neil’s first question when the call came in was obvious. “Are we sure it is him?” They were.

A tense six-hour standoff followed as negotiators tried to persuade Moat to give himself up. The scenes were beamed live on television. Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne turned up, claiming to know Moat, and offered to tempt him out with chicken and lager. He was politely asked to leave.

A Taser was used to try and avert Moat’s suicide. But it was not enough.

The killer put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

His death closed the biggest manhunt in British criminal history and its retelling will captivate millions.

Neil says: “The TV story is told through the eyes of a small number of characters but in reality hundreds were involved...and they all played their part.”

* The Hunt for Raoul Moat airs on ITV later this month.

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