|Publisher:||John Blake Publishing, Limited|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||311 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
His Short Life and Bloody Death
By Vanessa Howard
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2010 Vanessa Howard
All rights reserved.
FREEDOM THURSDAY 1 JULY
Most of what I've done I've gotten away with, no arrest.
– from Raoul Moat's letters
Those who've been incarcerated behind HM Prison Durham's bleak and imposing walls may well be amused to learn that its architect was imprisoned as it was being built for theft of the funds intended for its construction.
Perhaps it was not an auspicious start for a building that has housed some of Britain's most infamous 'hard men' criminals over the last two hundred years, names like John McVicar, Frankie Fraser, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. As well as men with a reputation for violence, Durham has housed female serial killers such as the arsenic poisoner Mary Ann Cotton. It is believed that she was responsible for the deaths of 21 victims and she was hanged at the gaol in 1873. More recently, the prison inmates have included Rose West and Myra Hindley.
Yet its notorious reputation perhaps belies the fact that it is no longer a Category A prison but a Category B. Once it held the country's most violent and highly dangerous inmates but, with its downgrade, it now acts as a local prison for convicted and remand adult male prisoners, primarily serving the courts of County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Teesside. Men who the authorities decide do not require maximum security and who often serve short-term sentences. Men like Raoul Thomas Moat.
Despite its harsh appearance, HM Prison Durham has been undergoing a substantial re-fit over the last ten years and is perhaps better equipped than ever to deal with its migrating population. When the prison hit the headlines seven years ago because figures were released showing it had the highest suicide rate of any English gaol, refurbishment may well have been overdue. Coping with the often complex social and psychological needs of prisoners is far from straightforward. Many have known years of alcohol or drug abuse or both, and many more grew up in dysfunctional households or spent periods of time in care. A lack of consistent and nurturing parental attention leaves many young men ill-prepared to deal with stress, often meaning that they resort to violence when needs are not met or if a threat, real or imagined, is identified.
On top of these psychological problems, some of the prisoner population also face practical difficulties. It is thought that anywhere between a third to two-thirds of prisoners are functionally illiterate and the effect of the failure to rehabilitate prisoners has led the Howard League for Penal Reform to report that two-thirds can be expected to re-offend within two years.
Prison, then, can be a fraught environment. Whilst there are those who take responsibility for their actions and see a custodial sentence as an opportunity to change their behaviour, they remain in the minority. Help is on hand: literacy tuition, courses in woodwork, bricklaying, painting and decorating and even, with a nod to the twenty-first century, Data Inputting. Giving a structure and direction to inmates' time is important but with shorter sentences, there is no simple route to rehabilitation. There is no magic wand.
A man like Raoul Moat will not have cut a remarkable figure walking the halls and walkways of Durham. True, he was tall and physically imposing at 6ft 3in and had the physique of someone who was committed to body building; yet even impressive physical attributes are not uncommon amongst those who are convicted. The gym is perhaps the busiest section of any prison and body building is a common obsession for men inside. It is easy to guess its attractions: whilst gaining bulk, men radiate the signal that they are not to be messed with, and even those who are incarcerated for the first time will seek to present an image of themselves as untouchable once behind bars. Besides, boredom is the main and overriding factor in any jail term. It is not unheard of for prisoners to spend 18 hours locked in their cells and 'working out' is a simple distraction.
With his bulk and all the swagger he'd mustered as a former nightclub doorman, Moat was determined that from the moment he arrived to serve his first custodial sentence, he would not be cowed or intimidated. And, sure enough, he found his way and soon he was vocal about just what he was capable of. No one would mess with Raoul Moat.
It was not as if he would be a familiar face in his Housing Block for long. He was there to serve a sentence for assault but would be held for only two months and two days. Not long enough to really make his presence felt and with insufficient time to be dealt with by the Probation Service. Those who serve a sentence of less than 12 months are released with no requirements for them to comply with in the community, such as attending drug rehabilitation.
If that seems surprising, it is worth noting that well over 100,000 prisoners were released last year alone, making the task of assessment and evaluation of risk and ongoing supervision an impossible task without a huge commitment towards raising staffing numbers, and improving training and resources.
As things stand, it is a fact that many ex-prisoners will not be supervised and it is inevitable that some will fall though the cracks as they re-enter civilian life. Men like Moat, with a long and growing list of arrests and convictions over a period of years, characters who repeatedly offend and pose a particular risk to society but not always in ways that can be foreseen.
A lot of research and work has been carried out over recent years into offending and rehabilitation and it has had an impact not only on the prison and probation service but on police behaviour too. Intelligence-led policing is one example. It was developed in response to the fact that a high percentage of crimes are carried out by a proportionately small number of offenders.
The thinking is that if those repeat-offenders can be identified, targeted and dealt with, a significant number of incidents should be prevented. Northumbria Police led the way by targeting shoplifters, some of whom had over 100 arrests to their names: a small group capable of causing retailers to lose thousands of pounds each year. Northumbria's intelligence-led policing initiative saw shoplifting offences fall by a third.
But Moat was no shoplifter, a crime he would have thought beneath him. Moat saw himself as a gentleman, a man with an outward persona of calm and control but he also knew how to display his 'bad boy' credentials, to leave no one in doubt that he was a guy who knew how to navigate his way around Newcastle's criminal underbelly. He was someone who was capable of administering a beating if he felt that he had been disrespected and, what was more, he was someone who was used to giving the police the run-around.
He'd been arrested before but it had come to nothing, and besides, he boasted that he'd got away with a lot more, any number of crimes that had never been detected. Now that he was banged up it was inconvenient, nothing more. But the truth was a lot more disconcerting than the tough-guy image he portrayed. He was not inside for armed robbery or for fighting with police officers; he was in prison for assaulting a minor, a child. Moat reportedly had 6 children with various different women and his violent disposition led to domestic assault.
A string of arrests stretching back 10 years and charges for carrying weaponry would be easy to dismiss and even be something to boast of. But a man serving time for hurting a child is at risk once within prison. A code, such as it is, leaves anyone with convictions for sexual offences open targets for other prisoners' aggression once in jail, and it is commonplace to hear of abusers being hit, cut or scalded by fellow inmates and frequently they are segregated from other prisoners.
The greater their notoriety, the more likely they are to be targeted. Ian Huntley, for example, was hospitalised in March 2010 after another inmate was said to have slashed his throat; this was merely the latest in a number of physical attacks since his conviction of the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
There is an unspoken hierarchy in prisons, with respect determined by the nature of the crime committed, time served and contacts in the outside criminal world. Moat felt he could not be seen as someone who hurt children. This perception of him could have had serious and ongoing repercussions during the time he was locked up, no matter how brief this might be. Moat was many things but he was not a stupid man. He knew how important preconceived ideas were and was aware that he would have to make it clear that he was banged up for something he had not done.
He didn't hit the kid, he asserted. Don't get him wrong: giving a kid a clip round the ear was perfectly acceptable to his mind if the child was out of order, they needed to be taught when they'd stepped out of line. But this wasn't what had happened this time, he didn't hit his kids, and he wasn't going to take the easier route of pleading guilty in order to get away with a community service order or the like. He took a stand, saying he wasn't guilty, and when the judge told him that he'd be serving time, he'd looked over towards the bench and said that they were sending down an innocent man.
Moat believed that the police and social workers interfere and only see that they want to see. To many prisoners he was pushing on an open door when he spoke of his suspicion that the police were on his case and happy to fit people up when it suited them. He maintained that officers had a vendetta against him and that they always had, pulling him over time and time again for no reason. Not only were they idiots, they were out to bully either those that had done nothing of consequence, old women who hadn't paid their TV licences, or they would latch on to someone like him, someone who knew how to stand up to them, and they would persecute him, orchestrating a witch-hunt. He hated the police and thought that they should be careful not to push him too far.
There were more than a few who agreed with Moat. He articulated a wider belief that the police didn't serve their communities and that administering law and order was actually done by men like Moat, who settled disputes and made clear the rights and wrongs of a situation. Moat was verbally adept but, while he was surrounded by men who found themselves in agreement with him, in his own mind, he could not shake free his fears about the true nature of his predicament.
He was a 37-year-old man with a string of broken relationships behind him, a brother and mother he had not seen for years, with daughters by different mothers who had been taken from him, his business had failed, and he needed medication to try and suppress his intermittent fits of panic and depression. He was also single again. Sam, his girlfriend of six years, the mother of his youngest daughter, had told him their relationship was over. She changed her status on her Facebook to 'single'. She wanted no more to do with him. He was a loser.
She had visited him inside only once. Moat was always proud of the way Sam looked, she was young, 15 years younger than him, and she was petite and pretty, just the sort of girl he imagined should be on his arm and waiting in the visiting centre to see him. The problem was that she was there to talk about their daughter Chanel and to tell him that, for her sake, he should not have contact with his youngest daughter once he was released. As a couple they had a stormy relationship. Moat knew he had a temper and that he could lose his cool. He started yelling at Sam and stood up, his aggression evident to everyone in the visiting room. Prison staff had to intervene and Sam left.
He could not get Sam and his daughter out of his mind. How could Sam have done this to him? After all he had done, she knew that he was in prison because he was making a stand against being falsely accused. He'd have to call her and sort things out. Two days before his release, he managed to track her down and talk to her on her mobile. She was blunt and told him that it was over between them and what was more, for the first time she had found someone that she really liked. Sam asked him to please respect her decision to move on and to leave her alone.
The call had taken but two minutes but the impact on Moat was immediate. He cracked, telling anyone who would listen to him that he had lost everything. To other inmates and the prison officers who had observed him talking on the phone, this was a departure from the persona he had presented since he first walked into Durham. He had lost weight whilst inside; perhaps with limited access to the gym and protein shakes that maintained mass this was to be expected, but possibly something else was plaguing him. That night, Moat couldn't sleep and he began to tell all who would listen that everything that had mattered to him had been taken away.
Amongst fellow prisoners, Moat would have seen a surge of sympathy. Once in prison, the sense of powerlessness is hard to avoid. You are told when to wake, when to sleep, when to eat and when to wash. This is a regime, even if it is a benign one, and you have little control over the pattern of your day. Inside your head is a different matter but it is hard to mentally block off the external realities of life behind bars.
Prison is not about physical punishment, and it has long ago stopped being about hard labour. The hard labour now takes place in the mind. All regular freedoms have been lost and for certain men, the changing nature of relationships of loved ones on the outside can be an additional difficulty. For some, losing a grip on the lives of those who have defined them, for example losing their status as husband and father, is a far more punishing experience than months lost behind bars.
To prison staff, it was clear that Moat was not coping well with his partner's decision to leave the relationship. He was a man who had been prescribed antidepressants and he was to be released only two days after he heard that Samantha no longer wanted to see him. Raoul Moat began telling people that he had nothing to live for, but this was more than despair. The disturbed man had another piece of information that made him very, very angry. Samantha had a new boyfriend and he was a police officer. She had dumped him and taken up with a copper.
To Samantha, this was the clearest way to send a signal to her ex that she was not to be approached. With his arrests, the convictions and now a spell in prison, Moat would clearly realise that, in the eyes of the law, he was walking on thin ice. To start messing around or trying to intimidate a police officer's girlfriend would be very risky, he'd obviously realise that. As stated previously, Moat wasn't a stupid man, he would understand that she was now beyond his reach and that his threats would do more than just upset her, they could mean that the full force of the law would be brought to bear against him. Why would he risk that?
Samantha's hope was to make Moat accept that their relationship was over. He did accept this, but with acceptance came a terrifying rage and the impulse to unleash his anger against those who had crossed him.
In some respects, this was nothing new in his character. He'd spoken on several occasions of men he'd beaten, those who'd let him down, such as the story of the young man he'd helped out once but who, in the end, he had thrashed for one indiscretion or another. There was a dividing line in Moat's head. He could play the perfect gentleman, the quiet and solicitous soul, but should that line be crossed, there would be hell to pay.
As he ranted that Sam had betrayed him, prison staff saw the warning signs. Men with Moat's profile don't tend to process disappointment in any rational or measured way. Instead and all too often, they lash out.
After a day and night without sleep Moat looked exhausted, but something more sinister was afoot. He was thinking, thinking hard and planning. If he could get to Sam, talk to her, perhaps she'd come round – she had in the past when they'd had their rocky moments. This was about more than the two of them, she had to see that – there was their daughter to think about. He asked to speak with the prison's priest, he talked of suicidal feelings, and it seemed that his rage when not aimed at others turned inwards, and made him question whether he wanted to live or die.
Excerpted from Raoul Moat by Vanessa Howard. Copyright © 2010 Vanessa Howard. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kill Natasha at Sleepy hollow.
Go to result one.