Police were warned by prison staff Raoul Moat would harm his ex-girlfriend

POLICE were warned by prison staff that gunman Raoul Moat may have been planning to harm his ex-girlfriend the day before he allegedly shot her and killed her new boyfriend.

• Armed police conduct inquiries in the Kenton area of Newcastle yesterday in the search for Raoul Moat. Picture: PA

As the hunt for the fugitive continued last night, Northumbria Police temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim said the warning came from Durham Prison on Friday.

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She added that the case had been referred to the police watchdog.

Moat, 37, from the Fenham area of Newcastle, was released from prison on Thursday after being jailed for 18 weeks for assault. On Saturday, shot Samantha Stobbart, killed her boyfriend, Chris Brown, and fled.

The next day the former nightclub bouncer shot and injured PC David Rathband, whose badly injured face and chest were shown in a photograph issued by police last night.

Police said Ms Stobbart, 22, was no longer in a critical condition and was "improving".

She issued a direct appeal to Moat, through the police, saying: "Please give yourself up. If you still love me and our baby you would not be doing this."

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Adamson revealed that police had received a hand-written letter in the last 24 hours purportedly from Moat, and they urged him: "I want you to realise you do have a future. We can only help you with this if you make contact with us directly."

The detective said there were indications that other people might be at risk and a number of them had been given police protection. Ms Stobbart was being "appropriately protected".

Tensions remained high in Newcastle, where people were arrested and released by armed police in at least two incidents.

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Moat mistakenly believed Ms Stobbart was having an affair with a police officer.

He is understood to have fired at Ms Stobbart - with whom he had a six-year on-off relationship - through the living-room window of a house in the Scafell area of Gateshead.

Moments later, Mr Brown, 29, is believed to have left the property, only to be struck down 50 metres from the front door.

Less than 24 hours after the attack, a man identified as Moat was linked to a shooting in East Denton, Newcastle.

PC Rathband, 42, a married father of two with ten years' experience on the force, was shot in the face and chest through the passenger window of his car in an "unprovoked" attack. He had been parked on a roundabout.

Ms Sim said PC Rathband underwent surgery on Sunday night and his condition remained critical but stable.

She explained that the force had voluntarily referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

"Northumbria Police were not informed that Mr Moat intended to shoot or kill Samantha Stobbart," she said.

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"We were informed on Friday afternoon by Durham Prison that Mr Moat may intend to cause serious harm to his partner.

"We acknowledge that it is important that these matters are investigated thoroughly, and I have voluntarily referred this aspect to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and we will of course fully co-operate with the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

Mr Adamson said Moat's letter set out his concerns and a "general grievance" with the police.

But emphasising the fact Ms Stobbart was not in a relationship with an officer, he urged Moat to get in touch. Her message stated: "When you came out of jail I told you I was seeing a police officer. I said this because I was frightened. I have not been seeing a police officer."

The detective also appealed for anyone helping to protect Moat to come forward..