'It was a real-life hunt': Revealed - how BBC survival expert Ray Mears stalked Raoul Moat as gunman evaded £1m police search

Fugitive nightclub doorman spent days hiding out in rough countryside after shooting his ex-girlfriend, murdering her new partner and blinding an unarmed police officer David Rathband

Survival expert Ray Mears has revealed how he stalked Raoul Moat to within a few feet after offering his services to track down the gunman as he evaded one of the biggest police hunts ever mounted in the UK.

Breaking a three-year silence since Moat’s death following a siege in the village of Rothbury, Northumberland, the television woodsman described the effort to capture the gunman as being "out of a Hollywood film set".

At one stage it was estimated that one tenth of available national police manpower was deployed from 18 different forces on the £1m hunt which included a Tornado fighter jet. The search received saturation media coverage as it unfolded over a week in July 2010.

The nightclub doorman spent days hiding out in rough countryside after shooting his ex-girlfriend, murdering her new partner and blinding an unarmed police officer following his release from prison.

Mears, 49, said he used the bush craft skills familiar to television viewers as he was flanked by armed officers to locate Moat spending eight hours tracking him through forest on the outskirts of the market town.

Speaking ahead of the publication of his autobiography later this month, he described the operation as “all a bit surreal”. He said: “This is the first time I've talked about it and it's because I feel there has been sufficient water under the bridge.”

He added: "It was such a unique set of circumstances. I have experience of tracking for 40 years. I can't imagine there would be that many people in the country who would have been in a position to help the police find someone who had gone into hiding who needed to be found. It was a real-life hunt; within my skill set but outside of my comfort zone.”

Police told Mears that his involvement was central in forcing Moat, 37, out of hiding and led to the eventual five-hour standoff with armed officers at the edge of the River Coquet on the evening of July 9.

It is believed he had been hiding in a storm drain. The woodsman was among a number of experts who became involved in the hunt including two forensic psychologists.

At the time Northumbria Police confirmed that Mears had helped them in the search although the television presenter refused to make any comment on his role.

Mears honed his outdoor skills as a boy camping out on the North Downs in East Sussex. His television series have shown him pass on tips for surviving with indigenous people in some of the world’s most extreme environments including the desert, the Arctic and the rain forest.

Moat, a 17-stone steroid user, shot himself in the head as police marksmen deployed Tasers in a bid to disarm him.

Police discovered abandoned campsites used by the gunman as he sought to evade capture. Armed officers guarded schools and a media blackout was imposed amid fears that he was planning revenge on targets and was following the coverage of his flight.

There had been several unconfirmed sightings of Moat in the town in the hours leading up to the final confrontation. A cordon was set up around the bodybuilder as negotiators tried to persuade him to put down his sawn off shot gun.

Pc David Rathband, who was shot in the face by Moat was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, in February last year.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot