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Moat helper loses sentence appeal

One of the two men who helped gunman Raoul Moat during his shotgun rampage - which left a man dead and a police officer blinded - has lost a bid to win a reduction in his "excessive" sentence.

Karl Ness, 26, from Dudley, North Tyneside, who was jailed for life in March and ordered to serve a minimum of 40 years before he can apply for parole, had his case rejected by three Court of Appeal judges in London.

He and Qhuram Awan, who was also jailed for life and must stay behind bars for at least 20 years, were convicted at Newcastle Crown Court after a five-week trial on a string of serious charges relating to the murderous rampage led by Moat.

Jealous and obsessive former doorman Moat shot his ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart, 22, and killed her new boyfriend Chris Brown, 29, in Birtley, Tyneside, in July 2010. The next day he shot and blinded traffic officer Pc David Rathband, leaving him for dead on a roundabout above the A1.

A plea by Ness that his sentence was "excessive" was rejected by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Singh.

Announcing the decision, Lord Judge said Ness had taken part in an "appalling catalogue of crime". It was argued on behalf of Ness during the proceedings that his sentence was "exceptional". Lord Judge said: "It clearly is exceptional and we recognise that. The reality is that this was a case of exceptionally grave crime."

Ness helped source a gun while Moat was in prison, spied on Ms Stobbart for him and helped research the identity of her new lover on the internet. He was convicted of murdering Mr Brown despite not pulling the trigger.

Awan, 23, from Blyth, Northumberland, and Ness were convicted of conspiracy to murder police officers and the attempted murder of Pc Rathband.

Awan was driving on the night Moat declared war on police, before he crept up on the unsuspecting officer, while Ness was in the car too. They were also there when Moat held up a chip shop in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, the next day. Both men were convicted of robbery.

The men helped the fugitive set up a secret camp in a field outside Rothbury, Northumberland. They went shopping for supplies without Moat and never raised the alarm. The men claimed they were being held hostage and were too scared to tip off police. Moat gave officers the slip before shooting himself three days later in a stand-off with police.

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