Cregan admits killing police officers
3:50pm Tuesday 12th February 2013 in News
One-eyed Dale Cregan has dramatically changed his plea and admitted murdering two unarmed police officers in a gun and grenade attack.
Cregan, 29, pleaded guilty to murdering Pc Fiona Bone, 32, and Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, during his trial at Preston Crown Court.
He continues to deny murdering father and son David and Mark Short.
Last week the families of the two murdered policewomen sobbed in court as they listened to details of the "bloody conclusion" to Cregan's alleged string of attacks.
The court heard that he told police, "I'll be waiting", as he lured the unarmed and unsuspecting officers with a bogus 999 call.
When the officers arrived Cregan attacked, firing 32 times in a matter of seconds, emptying his handgun's magazine, before leaving his "calling card" by throwing a military fragmentation grenade as his victims lay bleeding on the floor, the court was told.
The jury heard how Pc Bone fell in a hail of 24 bullets when she drew her Taser and tried to respond.
Cregan also blasted Pc Hughes in the head three times as she lay paralysed on the floor.
After the attack "calm and casual" Cregan, who had groomed himself with new clothes and a haircut on his last night of freedom, handed himself in saying: "I'm wanted by the police and I've just done two coppers," the jury heard.
Last week Nicholas Clarke QC detailed the final moments of the officers' lives.
As he did their loved ones, sitting in the public gallery, could not contain their emotions.
As Pc Bone's sister Vicky began to cry, her mother June put a consoling arm around her shoulder to give her a hug.
Pc Bone's partner Clare Curran had her head down, chin nearly touching her chest, motionless, looking down at the floor, while the officer's father Paul Bone, looked blankly across the courtroom, his left hand holding his chin and a finger touching his lips.
In the row of seats in front, Pc Hughes's mother Susan sat hunched weeping while her father Bryn hugged his new partner Natalie in an attempt to console her as she wiped away tears with a handkerchief.
The violence started after a "simmering feud" between two rival Manchester families, it is alleged.
The court was told how Cregan had gone to the home of his barber in Abbey Gardens in Mottram, Hyde, and imposed himself on the man and his partner.
The following morning he is said to have ordered the barber to cut his hair and trim his beard before taking a bath and changing into new clothes.
Then at 10.11am on September 18, Cregan made a 999 call, which was played to the jury, who heard the defendant's recognisable Manchester accent, purporting to be "Adam Gartree" and reported that somebody had thrown a "big concrete slab" through his back window.
He was told an officer would be sent within the hour.
He responded: "Thank's very much. I'll be waiting."
The officers arrived at the house at 10.52am with Cregan armed, ready and waiting, the jury was told.
"As Nicola and Fiona walked through the small front garden, he opened the front door and immediately fired his Glock," Mr Clarke said.
"Both officers were shot in the chest. The body armour that they were wearing protected them and the bullets did not penetrate," he added.
Pc Hughes ran down the path but Cregan continued pulling the trigger, hitting her in the middle of her back just below her armoured vest, the court heard.
She was "immediately paralysed", falling forwards on to the path.
"As she was falling or lying flat on her stomach, she was shot three more times," Mr Clarke continued.
"Cregan then turned his attention to Fiona Bone."
She was trapped in front of the lounge window and Cregan fired 24 shots at her but she managed to draw and fire her Taser, but it probably hit paving stones, the jury was told.
She was hit between five and eight times.
"She was killed by a perforating shot to the upper left side of her chest, which caused fatal injuries to the top of her heart," Mr Clarke said.
Such was the speed of the attack on the two officers that only 31 seconds elapsed between Pc Hughes switching off the police car engine and Pc Bone firing the Taser.
"Cregan was not finished. He turned his attention back to Pc Hughes and fired three more shots into the back and side of her head," Mr Clarke said.
"She was shot eight times, causing a total of seven gunshot-related injuries. Four of the shots caused potentially fatal wounds.
"One had severed her spinal cord, causing instant paralysis and a potentially fatal wound to a major artery."
Cregan had discharged a total of 32 bullets at the two unarmed police officers, the court was told.
He then fled the scene before colleagues of the fatally injured officers could arrive.
"Before he fled Abbey Gardens he made sure that he left his usual calling card," Mr Clarke said.
"He launched a military fragmentation grenade back towards the garden of number 30, where the two police officers were lying on the floor.
"This exploded causing further injuries to Nicola Hughes, who was nearest to the grenade."
She had already been fatally injured by the gunshot wounds inflicted upon her.
Cregan drove to nearby Hyde Police Station, walked up to the counter clerk and said: "I'm wanted by the police and I've just done two coppers."
Cregan put his arms out to be handcuffed and said he was there to hand himself in.
"He was calm and casual as he was handcuffed and arrested," Mr Clarke said.
Cregan then told an officer: "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 yous."
He later added he was "... sorry about those two that have been killed, I wish it was men..."
Detectives later suggested to him that he was a coward - having killed two unarmed officers, he fled before armed back-up arrived and instead "threw himself on the mercy of the police" - to which Cregan replied: "Cos you couldn't f****** find me could yous so?"
The dramatic change of plea came on the fourth day of the trial.
Following the lunch adjournment the jury was brought back into court and trial judge Mr Justice Holroyde told the court there was about to be a "step in proceedings".
Simon Csoka QC, defending Cregan, got to his feet to address the judge, saying: "The defendant would like to be arraigned again on counts 10 and 11."
Cregan then stood and replied "guilty" when asked to enter his new plea to the charges, read by the clerk of the court.
Mr Justice Holroyde said there were remaining charges against Cregan but this new development would change the timetabling for the trial.
Shortly afterwards the jurors were sent home to return tomorrow morning to continue the trial.
None of the families of the two officers attended court today to hear Cregan admit the murders.