In a dramatic turnaround during the trial of four murders, Dale Cregan changed his plea in court today and admitted killing two Greater Manchester Police officers.
Cregan, 29, is on trial for the murders of PCs Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, as well as the murders of father and son David and Mark Short, and the attempted murder of four others.
Cregan admitted the murder charges on the fourth day of the three-month court case at Preston Crown Court – he is on trial with nine other men but is the only one charged with the officers’ deaths.
The judge Mr Justice Holroyde invited the foreman of the jury to formally record guilty verdicts on counts ten and eleven, which relate to the officers’ shootings.
He had earlier told the jury that following discussions with the counsel there was to be a big ‘step in procedure’.
Cregan then took to the docks and pleaded guilty to both murders – he denies murdering Mark and David Short in separate attacks.
The one-eyed defendant previously pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The prosecution previously told the jury that Cregan had meticulously planned to murder the policewomen, after giving himself up following a 43-day manhunt.
Mr Clarke told the jury: “[Cregan] called in a spurious burglary at Abbey Gardens in Hattersley, luring two unarmed police officers to investigate.
“He lay in wait with a Glock firearm with an extended magazine that was fully loaded.”
PCs Hughes and Bone were responding to an attempted burglary call when they were shot dead, a hand grenade was then thrown towards their bodies.
After luring two female Manchester officers to their death Cregan apologised and told police ‘I wish it was men’, the jury of seven men and five women were told last week.
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’.
An empty Glock pistol was found at the scene of the shootings on Abbey Gardens, Hattersley, where an extended magazine had been used to fire a blaze of bullets at the officers.
MURDER WEAPON: Jury shown picture of Glock that fired ’32 shots in 31 seconds’
Cregan is then alleged to have driven a BMW at high speed to Hyde Police Station where he handed himself in.
He was then formally arrested on suspicion of murdering both officers and David Short, and was charged with the murder of Mark Short and attempted murder of three other men.
CCTV: Dale Cregan captured outside Hyde Police Station after officers’ murders
CALM AND COLLECTED: After entering station following gun and grenade murders, officers said Cregan appeared composed
FOUR MURDERS: Wanted man arrested for suspected involvement in four shootings
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.
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
The trial was expected to last up to 12 weeks, but will need to be restructured to cater for the change in plea.
The jury were sent home for the day as the trial was adjourned until tomorrow.