Sick fans of crazed gunman Raoul Moat are expected to mark the 10th anniversary of his death with a booze-fuelled party on the spot where he shot himself – which is now a wildflower meadow.
Next Thursday (9/7) marks a decade since the steroid-addicted bodybuilder was found hiding in a storm drain following the UK’s biggest ever manhunt.
The 37-year-old ex-bouncer blasted himself in the head after a six-hour stand-off with armed cops in 2010 after he was cornered in the town of Rothbury, Northumberland.
On the first anniversary of his death, Moat’s friends and family drank a toast at 1.12am on July 10 – the exact time he shot himself following the dramatic armed siege.
But as the 10th anniversary approaches – which coincides with lockdown restrictions easing – residents fear crowds of twisted ghouls will descend on the town to mark the grim milestone.
Moat became the centre of a mass manhunt after he shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend Sam Stobbart, then 22, and killing her lover, Chris Brown 29 in Birtley Gateshead.
The following day he shot and blinded PC David Rathband, 44, as he sat in his patrol car in Newcastle.
Tragically, the traffic officer hanged himself in February 2012 after struggling to cope with his new disability and the breakdown of his marriage.
At Moat’s funeral hundreds gathered to mourn the monster including mum-of-eight Theresa Bystram who travelled 276 miles overnight from her home in Weybridge, Surrey, to pay her respects at Newcastle Crematorium.
Police say they will use emergency powers introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus to break up any large groups gathering in the town next week.
Cllr Steven Bridgett, who represents the town, has urged “idiots” to stay away from the town this year – saying locals “want to move on”.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There was a large gathering of people who came to the spot where he shot himself on the 1st the 5th anniversaries where there was loud music pumping out until the early hours.
“Since then, people have been dreading the 10th anniversary because if you get any good weather then it’s going to be bedlam.
“There was some hope the lockdown might have put them off coming but now that’s been relaxed and the pubs will be open, we’re expecting a lot of people to come.
“They’ll probably be music, drinking and all sorts going on. It’s all very tasteless and an insult to the people’s whose lives he ruined.
“The guy murdered one poor bloke and shot and blinded a police officer who later killed himself yet he’s still portrayed as some kind of folk hero.”
Another resident added: “We can only pray for rain but we’re expecting a messy night.
“There’s no real way of sealing the area off and the meadow was grown in a way to stop people laying tributes at the tree where he died.
“There have been some big heavy flood defences installed recently and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are closed but it won’t stop people if they are really determined.”
Northumbria Police, which led the hunt for Moat which ended with Moat being cornered by cops in Rothbury, say they will use dispersal powers designed to prevent mass gatherings due to Covid-19.
A spokesperson said: “As with any incident we would look to carry out a fair and proportionate police response.”
Chief Executive Winton Keenen paid tribute to Moat’s victims. He said: “Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, Winton Keenen, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts are still very much with those most affected by what took place 10 years ago, especially the victims and their families.
“We particularly remember Chris Brown, who sadly lost his life in the cowardly, unprovoked attack, as well as his partner Samantha Stobbart who thankfully survived her injuries – our thoughts remain with their families, friends and loved ones.
“It is also right to recognise the sacrifice made by PC David Rathband who was shot and blinded during the incident, as he went about his duties in the same way his colleagues continue to do today, day-in, day-out, in pursuit of protecting and serving our communities.
“Whilst it is appropriate to recognise that events of this magnitude are thankfully rare across our region, the anniversary of this tragic series of events will undoubtedly add to the ongoing feelings of loss and frustration by those involved and we should all pause to think of them and others who find themselves in similar circumstances.”