'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
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders