Tyne & Wear

Raoul Moat inquest: Taser fired to try to catch gunman alive

XREP Taser
Image caption The XREP Taser shotgun was used during the stand-off with Moat

A non-approved Taser was fired at killer gunman Raoul Moat to try to "capture him alive" to face justice, an inquest has heard.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Ashman said he broke rules to use the experimental weapon as it was his "one chance" to catch the fugitive.

Moat, who shot one person dead, had vowed to kill a member of the public.

Mr Ashman, giving evidence at an inquest into Moat's death in Newcastle, said the "buck stopped" with him.

Moat sparked a week-long manhunt after shooting dead Chris Brown, his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart's new boyfriend.

He also shot Miss Stobbart, critically injuring her, and later shot PC David Rathband, 43, twice in the face, blinding him.

'Lies in the press'

Mr Ashman, the senior Northumbria Police officer in charge of trying to catch Moat, said officers feared the gunman intended to end his rampage of violence by attacking police marksmen and committing "suicide by cop".

Image caption Assistant Chief Constable Steve Ashman said he wanted to "catch him alive"

He said he was offered the use of the non-lethal, XREP Taser shotguns on the day detectives were told Moat intended to kill members of the public for every "lie" printed about him in the press.

The pump action shotgun-style weapons would enable officers to shoot Moat from a greater distance than standard police issue X-26 Taser pistols.

They also delivered an electric charge for longer than the X-26, the inquest heard.

Mr Ashman said he had had to balance breaking the Association of Chief Police Officers code of practice, which bans the use of non-approved weapons, with Moat's right to life under the Human Rights Act.

'One chance'

Tasers were used during the stand-off on the riverbank in Rothbury, Northumberland, when Moat shot himself using a sawn off shotgun on 10 July 2010.

Mr Ashman said: "We had reached the stage where there did not appear to be many alternatives.

Image caption Raoul Moat went on the run for a week after the shootings

"I was constantly having to reassess and re-evaluate my position to stop us from sliding into a plan which had only one outcome.

"Moat had to face justice for what he had done but I also had a duty to protect his life.

"An opportunity had been presented to me, one I had not thought of but one which I was duty bound to examine because it gave us possibly the only chance, possibly one chance and one chance only, a single chance to apprehend him without using lethal force, without shooting and killing him."

X-Rep Tasers fire a cartridge for 30 metres, where standard police Tasers have a range of just seven metres.

The inquest, which is expected to last for four weeks, will focus on the events in Rothbury on 9 and 10 July when Moat was cornered by police, the coroner David Mitford said.

On Monday, the first day of the hearing, the jury was told how six "suicide" notes written by Moat were found by police after he went on a "murderous rampage".

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