Gun killer Moat’s henchmen convicted

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Two men are facing jail after being convicted of being gunman Raoul Moat’s henchmen during his murderous rampage.

Karl Ness and Qhuram Awan conspired with Moat before, during and after he shot three people, killing one and seriously injuring the others.

The jury at Newcastle Crown Court convicted Ness of murder, and both defendants of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and robbery.

Ness was also convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. Awan was cleared of that charge.

Pc David Rathband, who was left blinded when Moat shot him in the face, hugged his sobbing wife Kath in the public gallery as the verdicts were delivered.

Ness, 26, of Dudley, North Tyneside, was with Moat on the night he killed karate expert Chris Brown, 29. Mr Brown’s mother Sally was also in tears as the verdicts were delivered.

Both defendants appeared to collapse when they learned their fate and each held his heads in his hands for several minutes.

Sentencing was adjourned until Tuesday.

Relatives of victims cried “Yes” when the unanimous verdicts were read out.

Ness and Awan helped Moat to stay one step ahead of the law during his rampage in July last year.

The men claimed they were held hostage by Moat, who killed himself during a stand-off with police in Rothbury, Northumberland.

But Ness had helped Moat to find out information about Mr Brown using the internet.

After Mr Brown was murdered, Moat turned his gun on his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart, 22, who had been seeing Mr Brown while Moat was in prison.

She was left fighting for her life in hospital as Moat’s former business partner Ness waited nearby.

While in prison, Moat had ordered Ness to spy on her to catch her with a new man.

Awan, 23, a part-time mechanic and doorman, of Blyth, Northumberland, helped the pair afterwards by driving a getaway car to a woodland hideout.

The next day self-confessed “petrol-head” Awan drove 37-year-old Moat in his modified black Lexus to the junction of the A1 and A69 where Moat shot Northumbria Police traffic officer Pc Rathband, 43, and left him for dead.

Both men helped the fugitive rob to a Northumberland chip shop and set up his campsite in a farmer’s field.

Throughout the trial, Ness and Awan maintained they went along with Moat’s demands only because they feared for their lives and those of their families.

The burly 6ft 4in former doorman went on the rampage after he was released from Durham Prison.

He was obsessed by the fact that Miss Stobbart was seeing someone new and was hell-bent on revenge.

Miss Stobbart, a trainee hairdresser from Birtley, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, had told Moat her new boyfriend, Mr Brown, was a policeman.

She hoped the lie would scare him off but within 48 hours of his release from prison Moat had shot dead Mr Brown, maimed Miss Stobbart, and shot and blinded Pc Rathband in his Volvo patrol car.

Shortly before attacking the Pc, Moat rang 999 to tell police he was “hunting for officers”.

Crucial evidence against the accomplices included “hostage” letters which proved the men were pretending to be held against their will.

In one letter seized by detectives, Awan wrote to his sister: “I’m actually safer than safe. I’m actually in a safe location out of harm’s way.”