Court hears how Dale Cregan killed GMP officers

Armed police stand outside Preston Crown Court as the trial takes place. Picture: Getty
Armed police stand outside Preston Crown Court as the trial takes place. Picture: Getty
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A MAN accused of killing two policewomen fired his gun until it was empty of bullets before throwing a fragmentation hand grenade at them, a court has heard.

• Cregan is alleged to have murdered David and Mark Short, who had rowed with another local family

• He called in a ‘spurious burglary’ to lure police officers to investigate before killing them

• David Short shot in his house after son Mark was killed at a Droylsden pub

One-eyed Dale Cregan, 29, had lured Pcs Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, into the trap with a bogus burglary call before opening fire on the unarmed women, Preston Crown Court heard.

The killings came following a revenge attack over a simmering family feud in east Manchester that had exploded into violence in the lead-up to the attack on the officers, jurors heard.

Cregan is alleged to have murdered David Short, 46, the head of the Short family, and his son, Mark, 23, who had rowed with another local family, the Atkinsons, in the months before murdering the policewomen, the court was told.

Nicholas Clarke QC, opening the case for the prosecution, told the jury: “On the 18th September 2012 he called in a spurious burglary at Abbey Gardens in Hattersley, luring two unarmed police officers to investigate.

“He lay in wait with a Glock firearm with an extended magazine that was fully loaded.

“Pc Fiona Bone and Pc Nicola Hughes attended. As soon as they arrived Cregan shot the officers repeatedly, until his magazine was empty.

“As he left the scene he again threw a grenade towards the victims.”


Mr Clarke told the jury the first murder was of Mark Short, who was shot at the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden, Manchester, on May 25 last year.

He said: “At the time that his son Mark was shot, David Short, the head of the Short family, was using the toilet.

“Otherwise he himself would have been a target. His son died in his arms.”

After Mr Short was buried at Droylsden cemetery, his father went on a daily basis to his grave to grieve, the jury was told.

But on the morning of August 10 he was at home when his killers came calling.

“He was chased through the house and shot many times,” Mr Clarke continued.

“He tried to run around the side of the house to escape. His injuries were already unsurvivable and then a grenade was thrown on to him.

“Its explosion had devastating consequences for his torso.

“It is the first time in this country that a military grenade has been deployed in this way.”

The prosecutor said the “uneasy peace” between the Short family and the Atkinsons broke down during a pub row on May 13, a couple of weeks before Mark Short was killed.

The row was between Theresa Atkinson - dubbed “the matriarch of the Atkinson family” - and Raymond Young, a member of the Short family, the court heard.

Mr Clarke said: “Theresa Atkinson was drunk and lashed out with a bottle, striking Young.

“It led to Raymond Young backhanding Theresa Atkinson.”

The jury was told she responded by shouting: “I’m going to get you done by my sons, I’m gonna get you done by my sons.”

‘Old friend’

Mr Clarke told the court that after this incident Theresa Atkinson repeatedly tried to contact her son Leon’s mobile phone and they spoke the next morning.

Mr Clarke said that straight after that call Leon Atkinson contacted his two brothers and sent a text message to his “old friend” Dale Cregan, who then began making contact with the other defendants, Luke Livesey, Matthew James, Ryan Hadfield and Damian Gorman, all alleged to be involved with the Cotton Tree murder.

He added: “They decided to exact revenge for the lack of respect shown to Theresa Atkinson and so the shootings at the Cotton Tree were a direct reprisal.”

The jury heard on the night of May 25 the Short family and friends gathered at the Cotton Tree pub for drinks.

Mr Clarke said police analysis showed the defendants accused of the murder of Mark Short were in “close contact” in the hours before the shooting.

‘Managing and directing’ operation to ‘exact revenge’

The prosecution claims Leon Atkinson, 35, from Ashton-under-Lyne, travelled to a caravan park in Prestatyn, North Wales, to give himself an “incontrovertible alibi” while Cregan, Livesey, 27, from Hattersley, and Gorman, 37, from Glossop, were to carry out the attack.

Hadfield, 28, from Droylsden, and James, 33, from Clayton, were to act as “spotters” to ensure the targets - the Short family - were in the pub, the jurors heard.

But it was Atkinson who was “managing and directing” the operation to “exact revenge” on the Shorts, Mr Clarke said.

CCTV was then played to the jury which showed a blue Ford Focus car pulling up outside the Cotton Tree at 11.49pm.

The prosecution say that Cregan, Livesey and Gorman were the men in the car.

The Ford can be seen putting on its hazard lights and pulling up at the side of the pub before a figure runs out of the car and into the building.

Mr Clarke said Mr Young was in the bar and saw the door open. He saw the gunman enter wearing a black balaclava.

“In his outstretched hand was a gun. The gun was fired. Mark Short was nearest to the door when the gunman came in,” Mr Clarke said.

Mark Short fell to the ground as the firing continued, focused on the people stood around a pool table.

Three more men, John Collins, Michael Belcher and Ryan Pridding, were also hit and fell to the floor.

Mr Clarke said: “After firing seven shots in quick succession, the gunman left through the door that he had entered and jumped back into the front passenger seat of the waiting Ford Focus.”

Cregan, Leon Atkinson, Livesey, Gorman, Hadfield and James all deny the murder of Mark Short and the attempted murder of three others in the pub at the time: Mr Collins, Mr Pridding and Mr Belcher.

Accused of the murder of David Short are Cregan, Francis Dixon, 37, from Stalybridge, Anthony Wilkinson, 38, from Manchester, and Jermaine Ward, 24. All four are also jointly accused of the attempted murder of Sharon Hark on the same day and a single charge of causing an explosion. They deny all the charges.

Wilkinson is additionally charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, which he denies.

Mohammed Ali, 23, from Chadderton, Greater Manchester, is accused of assisting an offender. He denies the charge.

Cregan alone is charged with the murder of the two police officers, which he denies.

All the charges span between May 25 and September 18 last year.

The trial continues.