British fugitive kills himself after week-long manhunt

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One of Britain's biggest ever manhunts ended dramatically on Saturday when fugitive gunman Raoul Moat shot himself dead after a six-hour stand-off with armed police.

After seven days on the run following three shootings which left his ex-girlfriend's new partner dead, armed police surrounded him in the village of Rothbury in northeast England which had been the focus of the massive manhunt.

Police had suspected Moat was hiding in the woods and caves in the picturesque area, but he was spotted walking along the river near the village.

Armed officers cornered the 37-year-old former nightclub bouncer and father of three children in a field late Friday and negotiated into the rainy night before Moat killed himself at around 1:15 am (0015 GMT).

Police said officers fired no shots. Moat was pronounced dead in hospital about an hour later.

"At around 1.15am, from information available at the moment, it appears the suspect shot himself. It appears no gunshots were fired by police officers," Northumbria Police said in a statement.

The end to the manhunt had sparked panic in the village when police told residents near the scene to stay indoors and lock their doors and windows.

An owner of a local guesthouse, who declined to be named, told the BBC he overheard some of the conversation between Moat and specially trained negotiators before he turned the gun on himself.

"He actually said, the one thing that sticks in my mind, 'I haven't got a dad'... and he also said that, 'nobody cares about me'."

Police said that because they had been in contact with Moat prior to his death, the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as is required in such cases.

Sue Sim, the temporary Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, said: "While the incident has been brought to a close we must be mindful of the impact it has had on many lives."

Police have been criticised for failing to heed warnings from prison officers who supervised Moat that he was likely to attack his former partner as soon as he was released after serving an 18-week sentence for assault.

He was wanted for shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend and the mother of one of his children, Samantha Stobbart, killing her boyfriend, and seriously injuring a policeman in the Newcastle area shortly after leaving prison.

Moat told police he had a grudge against them, apparently fuelled by the fact that Stobbart had lied to him that she was dating a policeman, in a bid to persuade him to stay away from her.

After the shootings, Moat went on the run. Camping equipment he had used was found near Rothbury.

It was reported on Saturday that police had been concerned that Moat was deeply unhappy with the way that details of his private life were being reported and had threatened to start targeting members of the public.

The shootings came just weeks after taxi driver Derrick Bird killed 12 people before turning the gun on himself in Cumberland, northwest England.

© 2010 AFP

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