Rothbury breathes sigh of relief as tension eases

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The Independent Online

Rothbury breathed a sigh of relief today as the tension of the traumatic past five days eased away.

Shoppers smiled in the pretty town centre - small enough for locals to call it a village - as the sun dried up the overnight rain.

Queues in the popular high class butchers looked forward to a relaxing family roast dinner tomorrow, while the deli attached to it did a brisk trade in bacon sandwiches.

There was the odd grumble about the media pinching parking spaces which are usually easier to find on a Saturday morning, and the drone of a news crew's helicopter disturbed the summer morning peace for some.

By the river, a white tent had been erected over the spot where Raoul Moat killed himself, preserving any evidence for forensic analysis.

But life appeared to be getting back to normal for locals who enjoy a close sense of community, and the tourists they like to welcome.

It was all so different from the scene on Thursday night, when police had warned Moat had widened his threat from targeting police to the general public.

Northumbria Police had insisted it should be business as usual in the town - but warned people to keep away from its more isolated areas, which was a major part of the attraction for visitors.

In the busy Co-op, a member of staff remarked on the busy trade, and the fact that everyone seemed in a lighter mood.

Shopper Larry Lambert, 71, said: "I am quite relieved because he was dysfunctional and you never know what these guys will do when they flip.

"Quite frankly I thought the search would go on for months because there were so many places to hide."

Mary Appleby, a mother of two and grandmother of three, was pleased to be able to travel to Newcastle for a shopping trip.

"I am so relieved, and tomorrow, we can get back to being normal - a sleepy little village."

She praised the police's excellent job and said it was surprising how quickly she got used to seeing armed police.

Holly Garrick, 17, lives within sight of the car park where the Lexus was found on Tuesday, close to Moat's campsite, and the spot on the river where he died.

She said: "The way he went was sad, thinking everyone absolutely hated him for what he has done.

"He has gone out of the world as a bad person - not nice to think about."

The professionalism of the police had strengthened her resolve to follow her father into the police force.

"They're role models," she said.

Holiday-maker Nigel Mitchell, 53, of Kings Lynn, Norfolk, said: "It's a super place, lovely countryside and friendly people.

"Being here on holiday has been surreal and bizarre."

Mr Mitchell, who works in customer services for a book manufacturer, praised the police saying: "You can see from the terrain that they were working with, that looking for the guy was like a finding needle in a haystack."

Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick Sir Alan Beith said: "The people of the Rothbury area coped superbly with a difficult and dangerous situation and everyone is relieved that it is over."