tue 25/10/2016

The Raoul Moat Tapes: Inside the Mind of a Killer, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

The Raoul Moat Tapes: Inside the Mind of a Killer, Channel 4

The Raoul Moat Tapes: Inside the Mind of a Killer, Channel 4

The Cutting Edge documentary reveals little we didn't already know

According to a psychiatrist, Moat had to kill 'in order to feel better'
After going on his murderous rampage earlier this summer, the police hunt for Raoul Moat was given rolling news coverage. Moat had critically injured his ex-partner Samantha Stobbart, he had murdered her new boyfriend and he had gone on to shoot and blind an off-duty policeman. Excerpts from the tapes he’d recorded over a two-year period, and those made during his subsequent week-long hide-out in the Northumbrian countryside, provided an audio backdrop to the story. But given that the case has been given so much coverage, given that relatives had already talked extensively to the press, and given that Moat had left almost 26 hours of recorded material providing a first-person account of what had led him to the point of murder, how much further inside the mind of Moat could we get? Or indeed want to go?

The Cutting Edge team behind The Raoul Moat Tapes: Inside the Mind of a Killer evidently thought that not enough mileage had been squeezed out of this disturbing story. So they gathered together a few more relatives and friends and once again a familiar picture emerged: Moat was a controlling man whose casual violence towards women was an open secret to those who knew him. He thought the police were out to get him, and that social workers, who’d already taken two of his children from a former relationship into care, were directly responsible for worsening his relationship with Stobbart. He’d told them that she was more frightened of them than she was of him, while the carer for his two children was so afraid of him that she refused to attend further social services meetings at which he would be present. Moat, pumped up by an obsessive gym regime and prone to bouts of paranoid rage, wasn’t a man who had simply "snapped" under pressure: he was an often frightening and intimidating character.

We'd also known that in the months leading up to the night he committed murder he’d covered his house with CCTV cameras, and there were even hidden cameras in his car. The tapes merely provide a more detailed account of his paranoia. They also provided some insight into his deluded sense of self: he was a "good guy" who’d been unfairly persecuted by the authorities. They, he said, had driven him to violence, and he was not a violent man. A psychiatrist invited on to the programme had this to say: “When people feel too contradicted [from their sense of self], when their wishes are too thwarted, they can become engaged in a narcissistic rage." Moat had to kill “in order to feel better”.

The psychiatrist, Cleo van Velson, threw in some perceptive comments, but because there was so little visual material to make up the programme  - though thankfully Cutting Edge chose not to go in for dramatic reconstructions - the makers padded it out with further input from a psychologist. She generalised with banal statements about the necessity for taking responsibility for one’s actions, which, clearly, Moat had failed to do at every step. Her apparent expertise was here proved pretty redundant. And as she, like the rest of us, was simply an outsider peering in, this got us no deeper into Moat’s troubled mind.

The programme turned out as suspected. What more could be added to further enlighten us about Moat's state of mind, about his motives for maiming and killing, or about his paranoia and self-deception? Perhaps next time they might try to get inside the collective mindset of his myriad fans, and reveal what accounts for such warped, mass engagement in support of a delusional killer.

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