Man arrested in hunt for police killer

York railway station was evacuated after a possible sighting
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The Independent Online

Detectives hunting the killer of a traffic policeman gunned down on Boxing Day arrested the prime suspect in an early morning swoop today.

Nathan Coleman, who is thought to be American, was detained by Northumbria police at a hotel in Gateshead after a tip off from a member of the public.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Following a call from a member of the public just after 2am today police attended an address in Northumbria where they arrested a man in his late 30s in connection with the murder of Pc Ian Broadhurst and the attempted murder of Pc Neil Roper and Pc James Banks on Boxing Day.

"The man is currently in custody in Northumbria where he is being held for questioning."

This morning the bed and breakfast hotel was sealed off with blue and white police tape. The hotel, on St Omers Road, was guarded by a number of police officers and a nearby street was also cordoned off.

York railway station - 15 miles east of Leeds and departure point for trains to the North-east - was evacuated last night after a flower seller reported seeing Nathan Coleman.

The station, which is on the main east coast line to London, was cordoned off at 6.32pm. No trains were allowed to stop and none was allowed to leave. The station later reopened.

Married Pc Broadhurst, 34, from Cookridge, Leeds, died after he was shot by a man who had been sitting in the back of his police car in Dib Lane, Leeds.

His colleague, Pc Roper, 45, was shot twice by the same man and is still recovering in hospital. Pc Banks, 26, was also shot at but the round ricocheted off his radio belt and baton buckle.

Mr Coleman, aged 35 left his flat less than three hours after PC Broadhurst was shot in Leeds.

Mr Coleman was linked by police yesterday to a makeshift ammunition factory in Leeds. A tip-off prompted by the publication of Mr Coleman's photograph 48 hours ago led police to a lock-up in the centre of Leeds where they discovered a bullet reloader machine - a device used in the manufacture of 9mm bullets which are used in automatic pistols.

The machine is being examined by ballistics experts to see if there is a connection with the bullets used in the murder of PC Broadhurst.

Events leading to the pursuit of Mr Coleman began at about 4pm on Boxing Day, when PC Broadhurst and a colleague spotted a man sitting in the driver's seat of a illegally parked BMW, reading a copy of the Racing Post. After a 10-minute conversation in the officers' patrol car, the man opened fire on the officers and a third colleague with an automatic pistol. The killer's getaway car was later found outside Mr Coleman's flat, in Springwood Road, Oakwood, a mile and a half from the murder scene.

Within three hours of the murder, Mr Coleman had left the flat, taking a half-hour taxi journey to Bradford. He asked the driver where he could find bed and breakfast accommodation before he was dropped off at Bank Street in the city.

The taxi driver saw him climb into another black and white, Leeds-based cab where a young couple - who do not appear to have known Mr Coleman - were already in the back seat.

Mr Coleman, who was clean shaven, was wearing a beige coat with hood and carried a grey rucksack with two white stripes. He had the same coat and bag when apparently spotted in Bradford the next day and again in the town of Brighouse.

But his background remained mysterious yesterday. West Yorkshire Police said inquiries to the FBI had elicited no information on Mr Coleman's existence in any other country, despite his frequent claims to be Canadian and to have lived in Florida before arriving in Yorkshire six years ago when he took up work as a nightclub doorman.

Mark Bateson, who owns the West Yorkshire Security agency that Mr Coleman used to work for, said that he was "a quiet lad who didn't talk much about himself". "He said he came from Canada and spoke with a bit of a Canadian accent. I never saw him with girlfriends or anything, though I suppose he did have them. We carried out police checks but they didn't have anything on him," said Mr Bateson.

All door staff working in Leeds must have a licence, although Mr Coleman is not currently licensed to work as a doorman in the city. He was also licensed by the neighbouring Kirklees Council, between October 1997 and some time in 1999, but did not undertake the necessary training so had his licence revoked.

He has also been claiming £75-a-week Job Seeker's Allowance. Shortly after marrying, he obtained a British driving licence. He has no motoring offences.