Manhunt was launched as Cregan left trail of death

Cregan admitted attempted murders of three others and causing an explosion with a hand-grenade. Picture: PA
Cregan admitted attempted murders of three others and causing an explosion with a hand-grenade. Picture: PA
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A MAJOR police hunt was launched to find Dale Cregan immediately after the death of David Short.

The body of Mr Short, 46, was found at his house in Clayton, Manchester, on 10 August last year after police responded to reports of gunfire. A post-mortem examination found he died from multiple gunshot wounds and a blast injury.

Dale Cregan is set to die in prison. Picture: PA

Dale Cregan is set to die in prison. Picture: PA

Less than ten minutes after his body was discovered in Folkestone Road East, there was another grenade blast and shots were fired at a house in Luke Road, Droylsden, but no-one was injured.

Mr Short’s amateur boxer son, Mark, 23, was killed in May last year when he was shot in the neck at the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden when a gunman walked in and opened fire. Three other men were shot during the attack and suffered leg and back injuries.

Cregan was arrested in June with others on suspicion of murdering Mark Short, but was released on bail pending further inquiries as there was insufficient evidence.

In the aftermath of the murders of PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, defended that decision.

He said: “It is absolutely normal in the course of complex crime inquiries that when people are arrested there are occasions where there is insufficient evidence available for them to be charged. In those circumstances suspects have to be released on bail.”

Days before the killing of David Short, police wanted to rearrest Cregan, but he went on the run.

Following David Short’s death, a picture of Cregan showing his false black onyx eye was distributed to the media.

The public was warned not to approach him as specialist firearms officers and uniformed officers were sent to patrol Clayton and Droylsden. Airports and ports were put on alert.

CCTV footage of a man throwing a grenade at the house in Luke Road, Droylsden, was released three days after the murder of David Short as the search for Cregan continued.

Police also issued a photograph of a getaway van abandoned at the end of Luke Road, which was blown up with a grenade. On 17 August, police offered a £25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Cregan.

A week later and Greater Manchester Police said officers from several other forces had been called up to join the search. On 29 August, the reward for information was upped to £50,000.

An image of Cregan was put up on screens before kick-off at Manchester City’s game against QPR on 1 September.

Two days later, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood made a direct appeal to Cregan to hand himself in.

He said: “For the past three weeks, we have been looking for Dale Cregan and with all the publicity in the media, and the frenzy of activity in the Clayton and Droylsden areas, he knows that too. Dale Cregan knows that he can and does have a safe way out of all of this.

“All we want, genuinely, is to try to find a safe way to resolve this situation, which has now been going on for more than three weeks. We don’t want any stand-off, we don’t want any drama.

“To do that, it is up to Dale to come out of hiding and to do that – he does have options open to him. He can call his solicitor, he can call a trusted friend or ally, or he can make himself known to us.

“We must also not lose sight of the fact that Dale Cregan has a family who are worried sick about him and simply want to see him again. They are absolutely desperate to see him safe. That is all we want, too.”

ACC Heywood added: “Dale Cregan can give his family that peace of mind. So I would urge him to contact someone he trusts today and work with us to find a peaceful way out of this situation.”