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Raoul Moat 'accomplices' remanded on conspiracy to murder charges

Two alleged accomplices of gunman Raoul Moat will face trial next year accused of conspiracy to murder, a court heard today.

Karl Ness, 26, and Qhuram Awan, 23, are accused of helping the ex-bouncer target police officers.

They appeared before Newcastle Crown Court via videolink from prison, and they also face a charge of possessing a firearm with intent.

During a brief hearing the defendants heard they will face trial next year before a High Court judge, with a provisional date of January 24.

A plea and case management hearing was fixed for the week beginning November 1.

Prosecutor Kingsley Hyland asked for a provisional four-week trial and added: "There is a real possibility of further defendants being charged."

It is alleged Ness and Awan were with Moat when he injured his ex-lover, Samantha Stobbart, in Birtley, Gateshead, and shot dead her boyfriend, Chris Brown.

The pair are accused of obtaining a sawn-off shotgun for Moat before he was released from prison, and providing supplies while he was on the run for a week.

Moat hid in Rothbury, Northumberland, for a week before he died after a stand-off with police by the River Coquet.

Ness, of Dudley, North Tyneside, and Awan, of Blyth, Northumberland, were arrested in the small town four days before Britain's most wanted man was discovered.

No pleas were entered and the judge, Mr Justice Simon, remanded them both into custody until their next court appearance.

Pc David Rathband, who was left blind after Moat shot him in his patrol car, returned home to his family yesterday.

He needed 17 days of treatment after he was shot in the shoulder and face from close range.

The 42-year-old officer said he was on the mend. He told The Sun: "It's going to be very difficult and I'm devastated. But I'm not going to dwell on it."

Moat was shot with two Tasers at the climax of the stand-off and they hoped a second post-mortem examination, requested by his family, will shed further details on his final moments.

Yesterday it was revealed that survival expert Ray Mears assisted police in the search for fugitive Moat.

The survival and bushcraft expert, who has starred in his own TV programmes, was drafted in to help Northumbria Police track down the 37-year-old.

Mears, 46, is believed to have been drafted in to help police after officers discovered an abandoned campsite on the outskirts of Rothbury.