Inquest to open into Raoul Moat's death

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The Independent Online

The inquest into gunman Raoul Moat's death is due to open today as the mother of the man he murdered criticised police for failing to protect her son.

Chris Brown's mother said officers should have warned the 29-year-old karate instructor they had received intelligence from Durham Prison suggesting his life was in danger.

Moat, a steroid-addicted former nightclub doorman, was released from prison on July 1 after serving a short sentence for assault.

A day later he shot his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed Mr Brown at a house in Birtley, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham.

Miss Stobbart, in an apparent attempt to protect herself from the burly 37-year-old, had told Moat she was dating a police officer.

This enraged the jealous father-of-three - who held numerous bitter grudges against the police - and could have sparked his rampage.

After he killed Mr Brown and then shot Pc David Rathband, Moat fled Newcastle sparking one of the biggest manhunts in British history.

The search centred around the remote town of Rothbury, 30 miles north of Newcastle, when police found a car Moat had been using.

His last stand came in the early hours of Saturday when a six-hour stand-off with police ended as he blasted himself in the head with a shotgun.

Police were yesterday continuing their painstaking search at Riverside Park in Rothbury, Northumberland, where Moat shot himself.

A team of officers were lifting manhole covers and checking drains along a one-mile stretch of riverbank.

The spot where Moat died was turned into a bizarre shrine with flowers and tributes.

Video: Moat inquiry opens

Meanwhile, more than 14,000 people joined a Facebook group called R.I.P RAOUL MOAT YOU LEGEND!, many of them praising the gunman for shooting Pc Rathband.

But Moat's former partner described him as an "utter monster" and said their two young daughters would not mourn the loss of their father.

Marissa Reid, 32, told the Daily Mirror that Moat repeatedly beat and raped her during their nine-year relationship.

She said when she broke the news of their father's death, the older child had asked her: "Why is he in Heaven, Mam? He should be going down there for what he's done."

Speaking from her home in Slough, Berkshire, yesterday Sally Brown attacked police for not warning her son about Moat.

She told ITV News: "They could have warned him. They could have been keeping an eye on him."

Mrs Brown also criticised Miss Stobbart for telling Moat she was dating a Northumbria Police officer.

"When he came out and they had that warning, whoever got that warning should have taken it further," she said.

"And, yes, I blame them but I also blame Samantha because Samantha knew what this man was like, she knew what this man was capable of, yet she put my son up front.

"Why tell him my son was a policeman? Why do that? Why goad the man?

"She knew what he was capable of. Why do it? And, yeah, I blame her."

She was also critical of the growing number of tributes that had been left for Moat at his home and at the spot where he died.

"I don't understand now, for some reason, why he is being praised and seen as some hero. It's wrong," she said.

One such tribute among nearly 50 bouquets placed outside Moat's home in Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, said: "We have all the good memories of growing up together and the fun times.

"They don't say about the real Raoul Moat. A good mate, a good dad, good at school, well mannered, hard working businessman. That's the real Raoul Moat."

Another handwritten card read: "RIP Raoul. We know you did some bad things but you didn't deserve to die, as everyone has rights."

Yesterday, Pc Rathband, who was shot in the face and chest by Moat as he sat in his police patrol car at a roundabout joining the A1 and A69 in East Denton, Newcastle, in the early hours of July 4, said he bore "no malice" towards him.

Pc Rathband also thanked everyone who had helped him and sent him messages of support.

The 42-year-old married father-of-two said: "I bear no malice towards the man who shot me but now wish to move on with my life.

"I am acutely aware of the impact events have had on many people and my thoughts are with them all, particularly the family of Chris Brown.

"My injuries are life-changing. It will require significant adjustments in the future in all aspects of my life.

"I enjoy my job as a police officer and I am totally committed to serving the public.

"Although I face long-term treatment, I am determined to return to duty as a police officer."

The inquest into Moat's death will be opened and adjourned by coroner David Mitford in Newcastle at 1pm.