Greater Manchester police deaths: Dale Cregan ‘lured officers to their deaths’ in ‘cold-blooded murder’
A MAN who allegedly killed two unarmed WPCs in a gun and grenade assault may have lured them to their deaths with a bogus call before committing “an act of cold-blooded murder”.
• Dead police officers named as Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23
• Sir Peter Fahey: Dale Cregan ‘lured women to their deaths’ in ‘act of cold-blooded murder’
• Two unarmed female police officer die after succumbing to injuries reportedly sustained during arrest of Dale Cregan
• Cregan was wanted in connection to a separate gun and grenade attack resulting in death of a father and son
• ‘Firearms and grenade used in attack that killed officers’
In an emotional statement in which he praised the commitment of policewomen Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, yesterday revealed the man alleged to have taken their lives was one of the UK’s most wanted men.
A £50,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the capture of Dale Cregan, 29, and 50 armed police raids had been carried out in the hope of finding him. Officers believe he was being protected by a criminal conspiracy.
Paying tribute to his fallen colleagues, Sir Peter said yesterday that Cregan, who has one eye, may have hatched his own plot to get back at police.
Ms Bone, 32, who was planning a wedding, and Ms Hughes, 23, were called to what police believed was a “routine call” of burglary in Abbey Gardens, Manchester, shortly before 11am yesterday.
When they arrived, Cregan ran into the road before shots were fired and a grenade was thrown. Ms Bone died at the scene. Ms Hughes was taken to hospital, where she died a short while after.
Cregan fled but later handed himself into a police station in Hyde. Police had believed Cregan posed a threat to officers,
although he had not made contact or issued specific threats since going on the run.
They are currently investigating whether he deliberately lured the officers to their deaths, although they say motives are “impossible to fathom”.
“We believe that Dale Cregan was in a house in Abbey Gardens overnight and at some point yesterday morning has either himself made a call or had somebody else make a call reporting a burglary,” Sir Peter said.
“This particular address was not known to us. So, as would be routine, two unarmed officers were sent to the scene.
“When they arrived, it appears that Cregan emerged into the road and killed these two officers. A firearm was used, a grenade was also used.”
Eyewitnesses described hearing a hail of bullets before the loud bang of a grenade.
Window cleaner Warren Shepherd said: “I just heard gunshots, bang, bang, bang – around ten of them – then a pause and a big explosion.
“I went around the back of the houses to see what happened and there was a police car that looked empty. There were people, neighbours, stood around there and one of my customers said, ‘They’ve been shot! The police officers have been shot!”’
He added: “I saw one body covered up and going into the back of the ambulance. I saw another body on a trolley and it looked like they were doing heart compressions on the body. It was like something on the movies. It’s just so sad for the family of the two policewomen.
“Both lost their lives just doing their jobs and my heart goes out to their families and I know people around here will feel the same.”
A 27-year-old woman said her ex-boyfriend witnessed the shooting.
“Someone has come outside the house . . . and shot two officers and then he threw a grenade in the garden,” she said.
“He said the officers hit the floor. Cregan then got into a silver BMW and drove off.”
It was not clear last night whether the officers died from bullet wounds or as a result of the blast from the grenade.
Sir Peter said: “Certainly, we believe the grenade was thrown at the officers, but we have not been able to be specific about the injuries the officers suffered or how they died.”
He said the force was “fully determined” to investigate the criminal conspiracy that had protected Cregan, and “bring those involved to book”.
Sir Peter described Ms Hughes as a “chatterbox” and a “great bobby” who was “always smiling”.
Ms Bone was a “calm, gentle woman” and an “excellent bobby” who had been in the middle of planning her wedding, he added.
He said the force was “absolutely devastated” by the shootings, adding: “We are all shocked by what happened.”
Officers involved in the hunt for Cregan were “shattered” by what had happened.
Sir Peter said: “This is one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police if not for the police service overall, because we have lost two deeply loved and valued colleagues, because they are part of our team – policing is very much a family.”
Ian Hanson, chairman of the Greater Manchester Police federation, called the deaths “the slaughter of the innocents”.
“What we’ve got are two young girls that went out this morning and they’ve got an absolute right to come home tonight to their loved ones,” he said. “This is cold-blooded murder. It’s the slaughter of the innocents. GMP is a family.
“I’m struggling to find the words to use to officers out there who’ve lost friends and colleagues.”
Paul Murphy, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Authority, added: “They exemplified the dedication that officers show, the bravery that officers show every single day.
“These were two fine police officers that went to what was considered to be routine, and lost their lives.”
Cregan had been wanted by police in connection with the murders of David and Mark Short.
David was killed at his home in Clayton, Manchester, on 10 August while Mark was gunned down at the Cotton Tree pub in nearby Droylsden, on 25 May. Four men have already been charged in connection with Mark’s murder and are due to enter pleas at Manchester Crown Court in November.
Earlier this month, a 33-year-old man also appeared at Manchester Crown Court charged with the gun and grenade murder of David.
The scene of the attack on the WPCs was cordoned off yesterday. A fleet of vans and ambulances were parked at the top of the road as a helicopter hovered overhead.
Traffic was blocked from coming on to the estate up to half a mile away.
A Royal Logistic Corps bomb disposal vehicle was inside the police cordon.
In paying tribute to the women, a number of people said yesterday’s shooting served as a reminder of the bravery police officers across the UK show day in day out.
Prime Minister David Cameron said that the killing was “a shocking reminder of the debt we owe to those who put themselves in danger to keep us safe and secure”.
He added: “What we have seen is the absolutely despicable act of pure evil.
“The cold-blooded murder of two female police officers doing their job out there protecting the public; another reminder of the incredible risks and great work our police service does.
“My thoughts, and I think the thoughts of the whole country, will be with their families at this impossibly difficult time.”
Steve Lloyd, trust manager of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said the murder of the two women officers was “unprecedented”.
“Our thoughts first and foremost go out to the family of the two murdered officers, their friends and colleagues,” he said.
“It is unprecedented for two women officers to be murdered in the line of duty.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “This is a deeply shocking incident and a terrible reminder of the risks that police officers face every day to keep our communities safe.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper added: “We should pay tribute to the bravery of the two officers today who have given so much in their work to keep us safe.”
Britain’s tragic roll call of female officers killed in the line of duty
FIONA Bone and Nicola Hughes become the latest female officers to be killed in the line of duty.
The death of WPC Yvonne Fletcher remains a thorn in the side of British justice, and is one of the most high-profile murders of an officer in the line of duty. She was gunned down during a protest outside the Libyan embassy, in London, in 1984.
In 2005, WPC Sharon Beshenivsky was shot dead during a robbery in Bradford. Muzzaker Imtiaz Shah, Yusuf Abdillah Jama and Mustaf Jama were jailed for life for her murder. Her colleague, WPC Teresa Milburn, was also shot but survived.
Another murder saw WPC Jane Arbuthnot, 22, killed in 1983 when an IRA car bomb exploded outside Harrods in London.
Steve Lloyd, of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said the deaths of the two women officers yesterday in the same incident was “unprecedented”.
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