Tyne & Wear

Pair charged as search for Raoul Moat enters sixth day

Raoul Moat
Image caption Police say they have a "gut feeling" Raoul Moat remains near Rothbury

Two men are due in court later after being charged in connection with the search for suspected gunman Raoul Moat, who has been on the run for six days.

Armed officers are continuing to scour countryside around Rothbury, Northumberland, in their hunt for Moat.

The former nightclub bouncer is suspected of shooting three people, one fatally, on Tyneside over the weekend.

Police said the two men were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and possessing a firearm with intent.

They said Karl Ness, 26, from Dudley, North Tyneside, and Qhuram Awan, 23, from Blyth, Northumberland, were arrested on Tuesday in the Rothbury area.

Both are due to appear at Newcastle Magistrates' Court.

They were arrested as police dealt with what they thought was a hostage situation amid fears Moat had kidnapped two men following the shootings.

The pair were subsequently arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

The search for Moat, 37, intensified on Wednesday evening as police returned their focus to Wagtail Farm in Rothbury, which had previously been the subject of detailed searches by armed officers.

A team of officers led an associate of Moat, who was handcuffed and wearing a flak jacket, through fields and into the farm.

Northumbria Police said the man was helping to identify places Moat was known to have previously visited.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Jim Campbell said: "The searches in this area have proved a particular challenge due to the open farmland and dense woodland and officers are continuing in their efforts today.

"I'd like to reassure the public that we are doing everything possible to locate Moat and bring this investigation to a conclusion.

"Although much of the investigation centres on Rothbury, the events in this area are just one part of a complex investigation and activity continues across the force."

Since going on the run, Moat has threatened to wage a vendetta against police after blaming the force for ruining his life.

Northumbria Police has repeatedly appealed to him to hand himself in, insisting officers want to apprehend him safely. The force believes he is holed up in countryside around Rothbury.

Dozens of firearms officers have been dispatched to the area as the hunt for Moat, from the Fenham area of Newcastle, continues.

About 40 firearms officers from the Metropolitan Police have been sent to the area while the Police Service of Northern Ireland has sent 20 armoured cars.

Moat is alleged to have shot and injured his former girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new partner Chris Brown, 29, in Birtley, Gateshead on Saturday.

Pc David Rathband, 42, was shot in his patrol car in Newcastle on Sunday.

Moat is also believed to have carried out an armed robbery at a fish and chip shop in Seaton Delaval, near Blyth, on Monday night.

Police located a black Lexus car linked to Moat in Rothbury on Tuesday and have since found a makeshift campsite where he is thought to have been living rough while on the run.

On Wednesday Det Ch Supt Neil Adamson, from Northumbria Police, said he had a "gut feeling" Moat was still in the Rothbury area.

Police believe Moat could be armed with one or two weapons and has access to ammunition.

A £10,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to his capture.

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