17 Apr 2023, 16:23
ITV, Matt Stokoe, Real Life, The Hunt for Raoul Moat
Some viewers of The Hunt for Raoul Moat on ITV1 might have been baffled by the opening scenes of the drama, which saw the killer described as a hero.
The three-part series began on Sunday (April 16, 2023), with reconstructed footage of members of the public laying flowers at the spot where Raoul Moat killed himself after a much-publicised manhunt.
The film showed people marking the year-long anniversary of his death. When interviewed, one woman said she’d travelled from Egham in Surrey to pay her respects to Raoul Moat.
She told the camera: “We’re here for Raoul Moat. He’s a hero to us. I do think he’s a hero.”
Meanwhile, the camera panned across flowers with cards saying: “Raoul, always in our thoughts.” Another said: “RIP Raoul. True legend.”
Viewers who remember the horrifying events of July 2010 will perhaps recall that some considered Raoul Moat a heroic figure at the time. But why?
Matt Stokoe plays Raoul Moat in The Hunt for Raoul Moat (Credit: ITV1)
Why did some see Raoul Moat as a hero?
It may seem difficult to imagine now but, at the time, Raoul Moat had his fans. Sickeningly, there were some members of the public who saw the killer as a hero – despite the fact that he murdered a man, and injured several others.
At the time, social media was in its infancy, and many took to platforms including Facebook and Twitter to follow and comment on the police manhunt to catch Raoul Moat.
Much like the recent Nicola Bulley case, many misinformed members of the public gathered together on social media – seemingly forgetting that Raoul was a murderer.
Two days after his release from Durham Prison, where he served a short sentence for “hitting one of his kids”, Raoul Moat killed his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart’s new boyfriend Chris Brown with a sawn-off shotgun. He also targeted his ex, leaving her seriously injured.
Believing Chris to be a policeman, Raoul went on the run, vowing to take revenge against the police. He shot PC Rathband through his police car window, leaving him permanently blinded.
The 37-year-old fugitive went on the run for nearly a week. He died by suicide near the town of Rothbury, Northumberland, following a six-hour standoff with armed police officers.
Bizarrely, during the manhunt, many supported Raoul and wanted him to escape the police.
This can, in part, be explained by those who simply disliked the police. But the story took ever more baffling turns when footballer Paul Gascoigne turned up. This added to the surreal nature of what should have been seen as a devastating tragedy.
Public described killer as a legend
At the time, many seemed to sympathise with Raoul Moat, and thought he might be mentally ill.
A message included on the Guardian read: “Poor man. He obviously had a problem, what I don’t know, but I just think he desperately needed help and didn’t know it.”
Another said: “I don’t think this guy is evil or a bad person, I think he made a huge mistake… Everyone makes mistakes.”
Others expressed admiration for Raoul, after he managed to elude the police for an entire week by camping out in the woods.
One said: “I don’t agree with what he did, but he did have his reasons, the lad is a legend in my book – he outran and outsmarted the police for over a week.”
Criminologist David Wilson and star of In the Footsteps of Killers spoke out about the weird phenomenon.
Speaking to Sky News, he said that Raoul Moat had tapped into “that dispossessed, white working-class, masculine mentality” and became a “kind of anti-hero”.
The real Raoul Moat was seen as a hero by some (Credit: Shutterstock)
‘RIP Raoul Moat you legend’ Facebook page
Some people took to social media to declare their admiration for Raoul Moat, viewing him as a kind of anti-authoritarian icon.
He was even described as a modern day Robin Hood, serving rough justice to those who had wronged him.
A Facebook page was started called ‘RIP Raoul Moat you legend’. It attracted 30,000 subscribers, until it was taken down.
On it, his ‘fans’ showed their admiration for him, and lamented his death.
Meanwhile, the death of Raoul Moat led to an outpouring of contrasting emotions on forums, blogs and websites.
What does writer Kevin Sampson say about the killer?
Writer Kevin Sampson credits the “fake news” and “malign influence of social media” as one of the reasons for scripting the drama. He believes it “trivialised crimes against women”.
He went on to address that while most people remember the name of Raoul Moat, very few could name his victims. Kevin told ED!: “I really wanted to tell the story through the eyes of the victims. We spoke to Chris’ family, who very much felt like he had been forgotten.”
Kevin continued, saying: “Swathes of the population were inclined to view Raoul in sort of heroic terms.”
He added: “We weren’t even considering fetishising a man on the run. When we started researching and planning this, I reached out to (those not intimately involved). They would say ‘oh, yeah, the one where Gazza turned up with his fishing rods’.
“That absolutely undermines and trivialises the tragedy of what really happened. And, you know, if there is one mission, really it’s to challenge people to think again, to reevaluate the way they look back on these events.”
Read more: The Hunt for Raoul Moat viewers criticise drama for ‘glamourising’ events: ‘Absolutely insensitive’
The Hunt for Raoul Moat is currently available to watch on ITVX.
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