The Raoul Moat Tapes was a TV documentary about true crime which, although flawed by a faintly sensationalist tone, still provided an interesting insight into the life of the man whose brief shooting spree in the North East last month ended in a stand-off with police negotiators and Moat’s ultimate suicide.
Moat’s case has prompted controversy because of the startling level of sympathy that he received, bearing in mind that he shot his lover, murdered her new partner, and blinded a police officer. He had a long-running grudge against the police, and because he eluded them for a few days, in the simple minds of some he seems to have acquired a sort of cult hero status.
Moat was big on self pity, and this comes out very strongly in the series of tapes that he made and passed to a friend shortly before his death. He did not seem to see that he was the author of his own problems. And yet, it is easy to be harsh about a jealous and violent man, and Moat was not necessarily without potential redeeming features. He was not unintelligent, and it may be that if he’d had better role models in his early years, he could have made something of his life. Instead he gave in to his worst instincts, and inflicted great harm on innocent people.
Psychiatrists suggested that there is a strong link between violence and jealousy (interesting to me, bearing in mind the theme of The Serpent Pool) and also that there can be a close link between suicide and homicide. These were interesting insights, but my overwhelming emotion after watching this programme was sadness. I felt sorry for Moat, although the world may well be better off without him, and terribly sorry for his victims. Once again, I was struck by the sheer self-destructiveness of violence, and the pointless waste of life in which it so often results.