Court hears Cregan told police ‘I’ll be waiting’

Preston Crown Court, where the case is being heard. Picture: AP
Preston Crown Court, where the case is being heard. Picture: AP
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THE families of two murdered police officers sobbed in court as they listened to details of the “bloody conclusion” to Dale ­Cregan’s alleged attacks.

Cregan, 29, told police, “I’ll be waiting”, as he lured the ­unarmed and unsuspecting officers with a bogus 999 call, Preston Crown Court was told.

When they arrived, he opened fire with a handgun, pulling the trigger 32 times in a matter of seconds before leaving his “calling card” by throwing a grenade as his victims lay ­bleeding on the floor, it is claimed.

He was branded a “coward” by investigating officers and the court heard how Pc Fiona Bone, 32, fell in a hail of 24 bullets when she drew her Taser and tried to respond.

He is also accused of shooting Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, in the head three times as she lay paralysed on the floor.

After the attack a “calm and casual” Cregan, who had prepared himself with new clothes and a haircut on his last night of freedom, handed himself in to police, saying: “I’m wanted by the police and I’ve just done two coppers,” the jury heard.

As Nicholas Clarke QC ­detailed the final moments of the officers’ lives, their loved ones 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.

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’ mother Susan sat hunched and weeping, while her ­father Bryn hugged his new partner Natalie, in a vain attempt to console her as she wiped away tears with a handkerchief.

Cregan denies murdering the officers and also the murder of father and son David and Mark Short.

The violence started after a “simmering feud” between two rival Manchester families, it is ­alleged.

The court heard the night before the attack on the officers, Cregan had gone to the home of his barber at Mottram, in Greater Manchester.

The barber was indoors with his partner and her seven-year-old daughter when Cregan called late at night.

Mr Clarke said they knew Cregan but were “terrified” by his presence. On arrival, Cregan placed the hand grenade on the fireplace in full view of the man whose house he had invaded, “should he need any reminder of Cregan’s capabilities,” Mr Clarke added.

Cregan then sent the barber out for beer and cigars.

“Cregan knew this was to be his last night of freedom,” said Mr Clarke, adding that the fugitive also tried to “score” some cocaine.

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 18 September, Cregan made a 999 call, played to the jury, who 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, the jury were told.

Mr Clarke said: “As Nicola and Fiona walked through the small front garden, he opened the front door and immediately fired his Glock. Both officers were shot in the chest.

“The body armour that they were wearing protected them and the bullets did not ­penetrate.”

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.

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.”

Cregan had discharged a total of 32 bullets at the two unarmed police officers, the court was told.

“Before he fled [the crime scene] 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.”

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.”

He later added he was “Sorry about those two that have been killed. I wish it was men.”