'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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones