Tyne & Wear

Prison warned police over threat from Gateshead gunman

Police were told suspected gunman Raoul Moat had threatened to seriously harm his former girlfriend the day before she was shot and her boyfriend killed.

Samantha Stobbart, 22, was shot in Birtley, Gateshead, on Saturday along with boyfriend Chris Brown, 29.

A police officer was also shot in his patrol car in Newcastle on Sunday.

Northumbria Police said Durham Prison had told them of Moat's comments a day after his release on Thursday. The case has been referred to the IPCC.

Professor David Wilson, a former prison governor, told the BBC: "If there was intelligence which suggested that Moat was threatening his ex-partner and other members of the public, that matter should have been taken very seriously by Northumbria Police."

The force voluntarily referred the case to the IPCC.

Det Ch Supt Neil Adamson also revealed police had received a hand-written letter in the past 24 hours, purportedly from Moat, outlining a number of "grievances".

Miss Stobbart is said to be improving in hospital. Pc David Rathband, 42, remains in a critical condition after undergoing surgery for face and chest wounds.

He is said to be "in remarkable spirits". Mr Rathband was shot in the face and upper body with what is believed to be a shot-gun type weapon.

Mr Adamson said there were indications that other people may be at risk and a number of them had been given police protection.

He said he believed Moat was still in the north-east of England, but that he probably had access to a vehicle.

He told a news conference at Northumbria Police headquarters in Ponteland that Miss Stobbart had appealed to Moat, saying: "Please give yourself up.

"If you still loved me and our baby you would not be doing this."

Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim said the force had been told on Friday that Moat had threatened to harm Miss Stobbart and voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints commission (IPCC).

She said the force would "fully co-operate" with any IPCC investigation.

Detectives believe the triple shooting was sparked by a grudge against Mr Brown and Miss Stobbart, which developed into a vendetta against the police.

Before the attacks began Moat's Facebook status was changed to read: "Just got out of jail, I've lost everything, my business, my property and to top it all off my lass has gone off with someone else.

"Watch and see what happens."

The former nightclub doorman is understood to have shot and killed Mr Brown outside a house in the Scafell area of Birtley, just a few yards from the front door.

Moments later, shots were fired at Miss Stobbart - with whom Moat had a six-year on-off relationship - through the living room window of the property.

Friends have paid tribute to Mr Brown, nicknamed "Brownie", on a special Facebook page set up in his memory.

Early on Sunday, a man identified as Moat was linked to the shooting of Pc Rathband in East Denton, Newcastle.

Detectives said the married father-of-two, with 10 years' experience on the force, was shot through the passenger window of his car in an "unprovoked" attack. He had been parked at a roundabout.

Police said extra firearms officers from forces including Cleveland, Humberside, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Cumbria, had been brought in overnight to aid in the hunt for Moat.

During the press conference Mr Adamson revealed that when Moat came out of jail, Miss Stobbart told him she was in a relationship with a police officer because she was "frightened".

He said: "We've spoken to Sam and she has asked us to say the following to you: "When you came out of jail I told you I was seeing a police officer.

'I said this because I was frightened. I have not been seeing a police officer."

Mr Adamson went on: "Mr Moat, I know you don't trust the police because you've told us that. So you know that this message is genuinely from Sam, she's told us about the Links of London chain bracelet that you bought her for Christmas.

"Please make contact with us."

He added that Miss Stobbart was being "appropriately protected".

As well as receiving a letter said to be from Moat, police said they had also received a telephone call minutes before Pc Rathband was shot warning that a police officer had been "targeted".

Ms Sim said police were not told that Moat planned to shoot Miss Stobbart, but admitted Durham Prison had alerted them to possible "serious harm".

She said: "We were informed on Friday afternoon by Durham Prison that Mr Moat may intend to cause serious harm to his partner.

"We acknowledge that it is important that these matters are investigated thoroughly and I have voluntarily referred this aspect to the Independent Police Complaints Commission

"We will, of course, fully co-operate with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

"However, as important as these matters may prove to be, the vitally important issue now is the safety of the public and our efforts to secure that by finding Mr Moat."

Before the press conference began it emerged that armed police had seized a man resembling Raoul Moat in Sunderland city centre. He was later released.

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