THE man gunned down in cold blood by fugitive Raoul Moat was unlawfully killed, an inquest decided today.
But the precise risk posed to karate instructor Chris Brown by gun maniac Moat was not known, the hearing has concluded.
Mr Brown, 29, was murdered after starting a relationship with Moat’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Stobbart, two days after the spurned lover was released from jail in July 2010.
Moat went on the run, and the next night shot and blinded Pc David Rathband, who was unarmed and sitting in his marked police car.
Delivering a verdict of unlawful killing, coroner Terence Carney said despite the police and the prison service being made aware of Moat’s possible intentions to harm, the exact threat he posed was not known.
“My finding is that Christopher Brown was unlawfully killed by Raoul Moat, the precise risk he presented not being known,” he said.
“I’m not satisfied that the information we have heard and was available was used appropriately.
“But I’m not satisfied that a failure to use this information has directly caused Christopher Brown’s death or contributed to it.”
Mr Carney praised the patience and stoicism of Mr Brown’s mother, Sally, and said that in all the coverage of Moat, her son had been forgotten.
“In her statement to this inquest the mother of Chris Brown challenged us to remember him, saying that much has been said and written about Raoul Moat, and that we should quite properly focus on her son,” he said.
“It can not be denied to her that much has been made in legal proceedings to date about those responsible for her son’s death, and the search for and death of Raoul Moat.
“She may well be forgiven that in the accumulation of news print that has been expended on this matter to date, Christopher, the victim, has been forgotten.”
Newcastle Crown Court had previously heard of missed opportunities about threats Moat made in prison.
Tim Allen, the governor at HMP Durham, where Moat had been held, said lessons had been learned about how best to respond to information given to them about possible threats of violence.
A prisoner giving evidence had said after Moat had been released he told a prison officer he would end up killing someone.
But the form the officer filled in as a result of this was not marked as needing immediate action, and time was lost as it was processed.
Mr Carney also said Northumbria Police needed to look at the robustness of the links between their departments in the force area.
A statement read out on behalf of Sally Brown thanked the coroner for allowing the events leading up to her son’s death to be examined.
“Christopher’s death has been horrendous for the whole family, it has been hell,” she said.
“I hope that no one in the future should have to go through what we have had to go through.”
She said would now take the time to consider the findings and grieve with her family.