BBC Home > BBC News > UK

Inside the mind of Raoul Moat - a criminologist's view

10 July 10 12:11
CCTV images of Raoul Moat

A criminologist who has examined the Raoul Moat case has said the fugitive gunman's actions in the week leading up to his death were typical of people who commit domestic violence.

David Wilson, a professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, said he thought the series of recent incidents in the 37-year-old's life were "all about power and control".

Moat spent a week on the run after allegedly shooting his former girlfriend, killing her new boyfriend and later shooting a police officer. During the week, he wrote long letters and left recordings detailing his grievances and explaining his actions.

Prof Wilson said it was the "need of a paranoid narcissist to retain power and control over a set of circumstances that he didn't particularly like.

"Indeed one of the lenses [through which] we can interpret all of what's happened is about domestic violence.

"This is a man who clearly beat his partner, beat his child, and when his partner decides to leave him and move in with another man, he can't stand that situation and wants to retrieve it by shooting those people involved."

Prof Wilson said it was "typical of the domestic violence abuser" to consider that the use of violence, apologising for it and then justifying his actions meant he should be forgiven.

He also said Moat had clearly been trying to "carefully construct" his image and that "we shouldn't have any kind of truck with this idea he's some kind of anti-hero figure".

Prof Wilson gave mention to threats Moat made in his 49-page handwritten letter, sent to police during the manhunt for the gunman.

Prof Wilson said Moat threatened the doctors and nurses who were looking after his ex-partner, who he had shot. Moat had also killed her new boyfriend, Chris Brown.

"We kind of look for rational behaviour in these people, whereas we can't apply our moral code or our logic to these series of events, because frankly he will interpret things in completely different ways.

"He also used this idea of a technique of neutralisation. He tried to downplay the violence that he used, and then justify the violence that had been perpetrated against his victims."

According to Prof Wilson, attempting to negotiate with Moat was not a futile gesture.

"The police were actually very much aware of the kinds of psychology Moat was displaying.

"For example, he had this process of future foreshortening. 'My life is over, I have nothing left to live for, you've taken it all away from me'.

"So in other words, he didn't think of his future in terms of weeks and months and years. He thought of his future in terms of hours or days, and by which he could give himself permission to behave in any way he wanted.

"Which is why, in the police press conferences, they very carefully tried to identify him with his children. The senior investigating officer at one stage actually said 'you have a future'.

"The police were very carefully trying to construct a way of establishing a rapport with him."

Share this

Related BBC sites