Dale Cregan: Gangland hard man with £50,000 reward on his head


Despite the promise of a £50,000 reward for his capture, Dale Cregan eluded police for weeks thanks to his hardman reputation and a network of contacts in the east Manchester stronghold where he was regarded by some as a folk hero.

The face of the one-eyed Cregan – who claimed to have suffered his injury as a result of fracas with a Thai policeman with a knuckle-duster – had been plastered across billboards and beamed on to the screen at Manchester City's ground as police sought him in connection with two murders.

The public had been warned not to approach the 29-year-old whose attempted capture was described by Greater Manchester Police as their "top priority". The hunt led to dozens of armed raids in an attempt to arrest him although it was not clear if he was even in the country. The former roofer had previously lived in Tenerife.

Police said they were aware of the "particular danger" posed by Cregan, but said that before yesterday's shooting he had made no direct threat to any officers while he was on the run.

Cregan was arrested in June on suspicion of the murder of Mark Short.

Mr Short, 23, an amateur boxer with a police record of violence, was killed in May when he was shot in the neck at the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden. Three other men were shot and injured during the attack. Mr Short, who had served time in prison, was known as a violent criminal who had been convicted of being part of a gang who carjacked a 60-year-old and he knocked a shopkeeper unconscious in 2009.

It is thought that Mr Short's father, David Short, had vowed retribution for his son's death at the hands of the "cowards" who killed him.

In a statement at the time, the family described him as a young man with a big heart. "He was no angel and it is not a secret he had been in trouble with the police, but that was all in the past. He was a loving son, brother, father and boyfriend to Naomi.

"Mark was only 23 years old and looking forward to a future with his son, Mark Junior. This has now all been taken away from him. He will be deeply missed by all of his family and friends the only ones that knew him the most."

Mr Short snr, who had a history of violence including gun possession and wounding, had been worried about threats on his life for some time and in recent years had taken to wearing a bulletproof vest, according to the Manchester Evening News. The newspaper reported that he had received a series of Osman rulings – warnings by the authorities when they receive intelligence that a person's life is at risk.

In what was being viewed as a pre-emptive attack before he could carry out his threat of revenge, Mr Short was killed in a gun and grenade attack on 10 August at his home in Clayton, Manchester. Two men were caught on CCTV tossing another grenade at a nearby house shortly after that attack and shots were also fired.

Earlier this month, police arrested a 33-year-old man in a park in Openshaw, east Manchester, and he was charged with the murder. Police stepped up the hunt for Cregan but, as the days went by, began to suspect that he was protected by a criminal conspiracy in a case that highlighted the "web of intimidation" woven by organised crime.

Cregan was recognisable from his billboard image: his mugshot showed him with a fake onyx eye, said to be one of a number that he could have chosen from his collection.

But Cregan only came into the open yesterday, when he chose to do so. Having been taken into custody, he is now under suspicion of claiming two further victims and causing the bloodiest day for police in almost 50 years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living