A MAN accused of killing two female police officers in a gun and grenade attack dramatically changed his plea yesterday to admit their murder.
• Dale Cregan changes plea to guilty for murders of policewomen Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes
• Two Pcs were killed in gun and grenade attack
One-eyed Dale Cregan, who now faces life in jail, admitted gunning down PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone on 18 September last year.
The court was shown CCTV of the moment Cregan handed himself in to police at Hyde Police station, just minutes after murdering the two officers.
He is still on trial for the murders of father and son, David and Mark Short, which he denies.
Cregan, 29, lured the officers with a bogus police call before using a Glock handgun and a military fragmentation grenade to kill the unarmed and unsuspecting PCs in Hattersley, Greater Manchester.
Cregan had initially pleaded not guilty to murdering PC Bone, 32, and PC Hughes, 23, at the start of his trial last week at Preston Crown Court.
The change of plea came on the fourth day of the trial. Following a 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 ten and 11.”
At 2:23pm, Cregan stood up 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, who is on trial with nine others, but this new development would change the timetabling for the trial.
He told the jury: “If you cast your minds back to the very start of the case, you will remember that I indicated to you that in due course you will be asked to record separate verdicts on each defendant on each charge that they face.
“Looking at it in those terms, you have heard of Mr Cregan’s admissions of guilt on these two charges and clearly these pleas do not change the position of the other defendants.”
Shortly afterwards, the jurors were sent home to return this morning to continue the trial.
In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said they welcomed the guilty pleas, but, due to the ongoing court proceedings, would not comment further.
None of the families of the two officers attended yesterday’s hearing, but last week 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 officers with a bogus 999 call to Abbey Gardens in Hattersley.
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.
PC Bone, who was brought up in Moray, 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.”
Cregan had gone to the house, the home of his barber, and imposed himself on the man and his partner. The following morning, he ordered the barber to cut his hair and trim his beard before taking a bath and changing into new clothes.
Then at 10:11am, Cregan made a 999 call, which was played to the jury. They heard the defendant’s recognisable Manchester accent, purporting to be “Adam Gartree” and reporting 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: “Thanks very much. I’ll be waiting.”
The officers arrived at the house at 10:52am with Cregan armed, ready and waiting.
Nicholas Clarke, QC, prosecuting, told the court: “As Nicola and Fiona walked through the small front garden, he opened the front door and immediately fired his Glock.”