After luring two female Manchester officers to their death Dale Cregan apologised and told police ‘I wish it was men’, a jury heard today.
The one-eyed defendant is on trial for the murders of PCs Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, who were shot dead after attending a ‘routine’ burglary call at a home in Hattersley on September 18 2012.
The Crown said that after executing his plan, Cregan shot at the officers 32 times and threw a hand grenade before handing himself into Hyde Police Station claiming ‘I’m wanted by the police and I’ve just done two coppers’.
On the second day of the prosecution’s opening against Cregan, 29, and nine other men for their involvement in four murders, Preston Crown Court were told that a trap had been set to murder the policewomen in a ‘bloody conclusion’ to a 43-day manhunt.
Yesterday, the court heard how Cregan had been at the forefront of murdering Mark Short, 23, and his father David Short, 46, in two targeted shootings – the second ended with a grenade exploding on the head of the Short family’s chest.
After police failed to rearrest Cregan on August 7 over the murder of Mark Short at the Cotton Tree Inn pub, Droylsden, on May 25 and the attempted murder of three other people – it is alleged he then attended to ‘unfinished business’ and killed the amateur boxer’s dad in reaction to a long-serving feud shared between two rival Manchester families.
‘DETAILED PLAN’: Court told Dale Cregan ambushed police before handing himself in
He then went on the run until the September 18, a day that Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy described as ‘the darkest day in GMP history’.
Mr Nicholas Clarke QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “Cregan was again carefully laying a detailed plan to murder. His target this time however was not an old rival, but the police.”
He told the court that Cregan had unexpectedly forced himself inside the home of a family man on September 17, whom he had only met on a handful of occasions in the past.
It is believed Cregan threatened the man and his family, brandishing a hand grenade and Glock pistol ‘as a reminder of what he can do’.
“Cregan knew this was to be his last night of freedom and tried to score some cocaine,” Mr Clarke added.
The following morning Cregan is then thought to have executed his final plan and phoned 999 to report that someone had thrown a concrete slab through his back window and run away – he said he’d be able to point out which direction the offender ran if police attended.
He was told an officer would be sent round within the hour, to which he replied ‘I’ll be waiting’.
PCs Bone and Hughes were dispatched and when they turned up they were met by a man opening fire at the them, the court were told this man was Cregan.
“PC Hughes was shot, just below her armoured vest, in the middle of her back and was immediately paralyzed, causing her to fall forwards onto the path,” Mr Clarke said.
“As she was falling or lying on her stomach, she was shot three more times.”
Cregan then turned his attention to PC Bone and he discharged 24 shots at her as she tried to pull out and fire her Taser – a shot was discharged into concrete, most likely the pavement, the court heard.
The attack lasted just 31 seconds before the officers turned off their patrol car’s engine and the discharge of the Taser.
After PC Bone was killed, Cregan walked back to PC Hughes and emptied his gun’s magazine – she was shot eight times in total, three of which were in the head.
He then ‘left his calling card’ by throwing a hand grenade, which exploded nearest to PC Hughes’ body but she was already dead at the time.
The jury of seven men and five women then heard how Cregan demanded the keys to the homeowner’s BMW before speeding away from the scene and directly to the police station while phoning his girlfriend.
“On his arrival at the police station, Cregan told the Counter Clerk who he was and said that he had come to hand himself in,” Mr Clarke said.
“He was calm and casual as he was handcuffed and arrested.”
During questioning, Cregan responded by saying: “I dropped the gun at the scene and I’ve murdered two police officers. You were hounding my family so I took it out on yours.”
He was arrested for the murder of Mark Short, attempted murders of John Collins, Ryan Pridding and Michael Belcher, suspicion of murdering David Short and suspicion of murdering PC Fiona Bone and PC Nicola Hughes on September 20.
During later interviews, Cregan further stated: “Sorry about those two that have been killed, I wish it was men.”
Of the ten defendants, Cregan is the only man charged with murdering the two female officers.