The senseless, incomprehensible killing of two officers was branded ‘the darkest day in the history of the Greater Manchester Police’ by Sir Peter Fahy yesterday.
Nicola Hughes, 23, and partner Fiona Bone, 32, were dispatched to a ‘routine incident’ after a home burglary call was received by police – a call that turned out to be a fatal trap.
The two officers, who strived to serve and protect their communities, arrived at the hideout of the force’s most-wanted criminal Dale Cregean. Only a matter of hours later both were pronounced dead.
Cregan handed himself to police and he remains in custody.
And while the police force’s flag flies at half-mast at their headquarters, GMP will face questions about how an operation that cost £150,000 a day ended so brutally, and so tragically.
How did the force’s most-wanted criminal manage to live and escape their grasp for 39 days?
How deep is the ‘criminal conspiracy’ in Greater Manchester that managed to operate so successfully under GMP’s nose?
Why were two unarmed officers sent to a home within the radius of the brutal gun and grenade murders – an area where men arrested in connection with both murders had connections?
The reward of £50,000 for information that led to the arrest of Dale Cregan, 29, and Anthony Wilkinson, 33, was the highest amount ever issued by GMP and was used to entice vital information out of the people who held it.
Unfortunately, that information was never disclosed by those who knew it.
Below is a timeline of events across Greater Manchester beginning with the targeted attack on Mark Short in the Cotton Tree pub, and ending with the worst day in British police history for 46 years.
Three men, aged 27, 29, 37, arrested on suspicion of murdering father-of-one Mark Short. The suspects are bailed two days later until August.
Three other men, aged 18, 21 and 34, arrested on suspicion of murder and assisting an offender bailed until July 30.
Images show the vehicle stop outside the Cotton Tree Pub – the gunman was in the pub for 15 seconds before fleeing.
10.40am: Second grenade explosion at a home in Luke Road, Droylsden. No-one injured in blast.
Greater Manchester Police release shocking CCTV footage of gun and grenade killing of David Short, as two men casually walk up to house with guns. One unpins a grenade and launches it into house before both run off.
Detectives release two names wanted in connection with murder – Anthony Wilkinson, 33, and Dale Cregan, 29. Cregan is also wanted in connection with the murder of Mark Short.
People in Clayton, Droylsden and surrounding areas ‘are becoming frustrated with the intense and continuing policing activity’, claims ACC Shewan.
11am: Two officers called to bogus burglary by Dale Cregan at house in Abbey Gardens, Mottram, Hyde
September 19: GMP chief Sir Peter Fahy defends ‘absolutely normal’ decision to release Dale Cregan on bail in June following Mark Short murder probe – detectives had ‘insufficient evidence’ against him.