Raoul Moat henchmen handed life sentences

Two men who helped crazed gunman Raoul Moat during his shotgun rampage which left a man dead and a police officer blinded were jailed for life today.

Karl Ness will serve at least 40 years before he can apply for parole, while Qhuram Awan must stay behind bars for a minimum of 20 years.



The two henchmen were convicted at Newcastle Crown Court after a five-week trial on a string of serious charges relating to the murderous rampage led by Moat.



The jealous and obsessive former doorman shot his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new boyfriend Chris Brown, 29, in Birtley, Tyneside, last July.



The next day he shot and blinded traffic officer Pc David Rathband, 43, leaving him for dead on a roundabout above the A1.



Pc Rathband, who wept as details of the case were outlined, said afterwards: "We are extremely pleased with the sentences set out for these two evil individuals."



Ness, 26, from Dudley, North Tyneside, helped source a gun while Moat was in prison, spied on Ms Stobbart for him and helped research the identity of her new lover on the internet.



He was convicted of murdering Mr Brown despite not pulling the trigger.



Awan, 23, from Blyth, Northumberland, and Ness were convicted of conspiracy to murder police officers and the attempted murder of Pc Rathband.



Awan was driving on the night Moat declared war on police, before he crept up on the unsuspecting officer, while Ness was in the car too.



They were also there when Moat held up a chip shop in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, the next day. Both men were convicted of robbery.



The men helped the fugitive set up a secret camp in a field outside Rothbury, Northumberland.



They went shopping for supplies without Moat and never raised the alarm. The men claimed they were being held hostage and were too scared to tip off police.



They were arrested by officers who disorientated them with a stun grenade.



Moat gave officers the slip before shooting himself three days later in a stand-off with police.



While he remained at large police mounted a huge operation to find him, drafting in firearms specialists from across the UK.



Armed officers were stationed outside Rothbury schools, and specialist searchers scoured hundreds of acres of wild scenery.



The search for Moat and subsequent investigation of Ness and Awan has cost Northumbria Police more than £1.4 million.



Mr Justice McCombe, sentencing Ness and Awan to life, said both men were a danger to the public.



"Here we have a case where three men formulated a plan to murder policemen indiscriminately, and then, pursuant to the plan, attempted (to within the thinnest thread of human life) to kill one officer, with appalling consequences," he said.



"The roles played by these two defendants cannot be minimised.



"While the offences may not have been committed without Moat, it is difficult to see that they could have been committed in the manner they were without Ness and Awan respectively.



"This too can be said to be a crime meriting punishment of the utmost severity, even though these defendants did not fire the gun.



"Each defendant willingly joined in a plan to commit random murders of police officers, knowing precisely what Moat had already done to Mr Brown and Miss Stobbart.



"The plan resulted in an offence that nearly achieved the aim."



Pc Rathband added: "Both Ness and Awan will be very old people before they are released or considered for release and long may they stay there.



"These two individuals, along with the other coward who wasn't man enough to stay here, have taken my job from me.



"I am now blind for the rest of my life.



"It will be me who decides when I will leave, not these three individuals. I will continue as long as I possibly can in the job I love."



The judge said he hoped Pc Rathband could continue his career.



Mr Brown's brother Jason said: "I hope every day of his 40 years he (Ness) thinks about what he has done."



Detective Superintendent Jim Napier said: "Throughout that week last July, both men had numerous opportunities to stop these unfolding events and prevent people being killed and injured. However neither took any responsibility for their actions."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there