A policewoman leaked confidential details to her sister about the police manhunt for mass killer Dale Cregan, it was claimed today.
PC Katie Murray, 29, used her force database to obtain sensitive police information on Cregan while he was still on the run before using texts and the WhatsApp messaging service to pass it on, it was alleged.
When unarmed WPCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were shot dead by Cregan in an ambush, Murray sent sister Lindsey, 33, a picture and the name of one of the dead officers three hours before she was formally identified at a live TV news conference, it was said.
In a WhatsApp message between the pair, Lindsey said ‘oh my God, I can’t believe this sh*t, you better come here after work and fill me in’ only for Katie to reply ‘I don’t really know anything. He he’.
The officer, who has been with Greater Manchester Police since 2004, later filmed Cregan arriving at Newton Heath police station for an interview and could be heard repeating ‘oh my God, oh my God’, as the cop killer was being transferred from Hyde Police Station having just handed himself in.
Hospital worker Lindsey was said to have disseminated sensitive material given to her by Katie to friends.
Eight days after Cregan carried out the second of his four murders, Lindsey allegedly told a friend: “Talking to Kate last night, I know the full story about Cregan x.”
She was said to have provided details of the case and future police tactics concluding ‘keep it to yourself though. They are all targets our Kate said’.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Katie and Lindsey, both of Droylsden, denied a charge of misconduct in a public office and Katie also denies a data protection offence.
The jury was told the WPC had once been in a relationship with cannabis dealer Jason Lloyd, 43, and she also used the force database to get confidential information to him about police investigations into his criminality over a 20-month period.
She was said to have provided him with details of investigations into his criminal associates.
Nick Clarke QC prosecuting said: “In addition to providing information to Jason Lloyd, Katie Murray has also misused police systems to gain and provide information to friends and family members without any lawful policing purposes.
“Lindsey has requested Katie to check police systems and provide information to her regarding other individuals and incidents known to her.
“There was no proper policing purpose for such inquiries and no legitimate basis for the dissemination of the information.”
Alleged leaks by Katie included details of the investigations into the murders by Cregan of Mark Short, 28, who was shot dead at The Cotton Tree Pub in Ashton-under-Lyne on May 25 2012 and father David Short, 46, who was killed in a gun and grenade attack at his home on August 10 2012.
Mr Clarke added: “PC Murray had no role in investigating the shootings. Nevertheless she took a particular and persistent interest in the police log in relation to that incident and in the same period she was in regular contact with Jason Lloyd.”
When Cregan and another suspect were initially arrested and questioned and bailed on their return from Thaliand on June 12 2012, Katie reviewed the arrests and looked at their custody records before making contact with Lloyd.
On the day of David Short’s murder, Katie checked the incident log on several occasions before being in contact with Lloyd nine times at around the same time – even while the police screens were open in front of her, said the QC.
He added: “Lindsey is also very interested in the information that can be obtained from Katie.
“Examination of call data, text and WhatsApp messages between Katie, Lindsey and associates has established that Katie divulged to her sister information regarding the murder investigations including the hunt for Dale Cregan and his associates, their arrest and custody process.
“Lindsey was aware that Jason Lloyd was in contact with the Cregan family.”
Mr Clarke said when the two policewomen were killed on September 18 2012, Katie was not assigned to the investigation team – yet sent a picture of WPC Nicola at 12.53pm.
Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy did not formally name the officer until 3.53pm during a news conference.
The prosecutor said: “Not only did she constantly monitor the incident logs and activity as shown on the police computers, she was also contacting her sister then almost immediately afterwards Lloyd.
“Katie Murray calls Mr Lloyd at the time the news is breaking so she can talk to him about developments. Lindsey Murray is clearly very interested in what’s going on.
“We are sure that you will be aware how sensitively and carefully controlled the release of such information has to be, to ensure that families are first told through appropriate official channels.
“Other than reading about it on Twitter or through some other gossip based system of information leak – which is what was instigated by Katie that day.”
The court heard Katie also shared information about another possible murder not related to Cregan and checked up on her boyfriend’s ex-lover.
She is alleged to have tipped Lloyd off on proposed police raids of his cannabis factory based in a disused mill in Stockport which had been fitted with fake walls to make crops almost impossible to find.
The link between Murray and Lloyd, also of Droylsden, was only discovered when police seized his mobile phone following the Cregan murders and texts on the device were examined.
When police raided Katie’s home, they found an envelope of letters written to her from Lloyd which she kept in the drawer of her bedside cabinet.
Lloyd, from Droyslden, denies conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and separate offences of possessing a prohibited firearm, possessing ammunition without a certificate and possessing ammunition with intent to endanger life.
The trial continues.
Story via Cavendish Press