Life imitating art, eh? A crazed killer on the run, leaving messages saying he WILL have revenge ‘cos his girl done him wrong with a cop. Pictures of the wanted man, biceps bulging and eyes glittering with menace. Dozens of heavily-armed police officers – one-tenth of the entire armed police force in Britain - armoured cars brought in from – where else? – the north of Ireland, a stool-pigeon in handcuffs being protected by a phalanx of bullet-proof shields – it’s like O J Simpson on the run while 24-hour news covers his progress. Except of course Raoul Moat isn’t black and he comes from the North-East of England (so colourful, all that talk of ‘bairns’ and ‘giving yasel’ oop, son’). And did I mention the village under siege and the children of the local school huddled together fearfully, knowing there’s a monster out there somewhere?
I’m not sure why but my instinct is to smell a big fat rat somewhere in this. If he’d been an Al Quaiada figure, in possession of a small nuclear device, the media attention could hardly have been more complete. Raoul Moat can’t be the first criminal who’s said the police are corrupt and he’ll get his own back on them. He’s certainly not the first man to have shot a love rival or left a note full of passion and tormented betrayal. And maybe I’ve been conditioned by the old gangster movies, but I feel more than a twinge of sympathy for this man, so completely outnumbered by the pursuing police, whose pathetic mother tells him through some shamelss red-top: “You’d be better off dead, son” and who once was the sweet-faced child that we see in newspaper photographs, looking out at the world, hopeful that life would give him happiness and belonging.
I hope he gets away.