Moat inquest to examine taser use


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The Independent Online

A jury at the inquest of cornered killer Raoul Moat will consider whether police should have used unauthorised Taser weapons on the night, the coroner has said.

The 37-year-old ex-doorman shot himself in the head in Rothbury, Northumberland, after being hit by a shotgun Taser round fired by marksmen who believed he was preparing to kill himself.

The inquest at Newcastle Crown Court has heard the aim was to incapacitate him, allowing officers to make an arrest, but that in all likelihood there was little or no electrical discharge needed to achieve that.

Moat was on the run after shooting his ex-girlfriend Sam Stobbart, executing her new boyfriend Chris Brown and then blinding Pc David Rathband after declaring war on police.

Newcastle Coroner David Mitford began summing up the case on the 14th day of the hearing.

He said up to 300 armed police - half of the country's trained firearms officers - were involved in the manhunt.

While on the run, Moat left messages threatening the wider public.

"That created a massive problem, an unprecedented problem for the police to deal with.

"It was known he had the capacity and was prepared to use violence with a lethal weapon."

Police were offered and accepted X12 Taser shotguns which were only licensed for testing in the UK. They fired XREP cartridges over a longer range than conventional handheld Tasers.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Ashman made the decision to accept the shotgun Tasers for use, and a senior officer said they should be deployed on the night, the coroner said.

He told the jury: "These are issues that you will need to look at.

"I invite you to make a decision on whether that was appropriate."

Mr Mitford said the jury needed to consider what options were available to the police, and described the "rather stark" situation they found themselves in.

"You have to decide whether it was appropriate. Was it a sensible thing to do at that time, not knowing how it would turn out?

"You need to test that by asking what else they could do."

The coroner said it was "blatant" Moat shot himself, but the jury needed to determine the circumstances.

That would be conveyed in a narrative verdict, he said.

The panel of five men and five women would have to be "satisfied so you are sure" before returning a verdict of suicide, whereas other verdicts could be decided "on the balance of probabilities".

The inquest was adjourned until tomorrow when the jury will start deliberating.