Dale Cregan ordered beers and cigars to celebrate 'last night of freedom' before two women police officers were killed

Fugitive fired 32 shots at officers in just a matter of seconds, court is told

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The Independent Online

A wanted man ordered beer and cigars knowing he was enjoying his “last night of freedom” before laying a trap to shoot dead two unarmed policewomen, a court heard.

Dale Cregan fired 32 shots at PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in a matter of seconds before lobbing a military fragmentation grenade at them, a jury was told.

Having carried out his plan, Preston Crown Court heard, he walked into a police station and told the counter clerk and said: “I’ve just done two coppers.”

Nicholas Clarke, QC, for the prosecution, said that before killing the policewomen on 18 September last year the defendant had been on the run from police who wanted him for the murders of father and son David and Mark Short, following a “simmering feud” between two rival Manchester families.

“In each case he was up against unarmed men and women who could never have foreseen that they would face a man as callous and cowardly as he,” Mr Clarke said. “All phases of these murderous attacks were carried out by a man who knew exactly what he was doing, with chilling premeditation and clarity of mind.”

On the night before the PCs Bone and Hughes were murdered, Mr Cregan had gone to the home of  an acquaintance in Hyde, Manchester, to “impose himself” for the evening. The man was ordered to do as he was told by Mr Cregan. The jury was told the defendant, armed with a gun and a grenade, told the man to get beer and cigars. He also wanted cocaine. “Cregan knew this was to be his last night of freedom,” said Mr Clarke.”

In the morning Mr Cregan is said to have gone to 30 Abbey Gardens, Hyde, and, calling himself Adam Gartree, rang police to say a concrete slab had been thrown through a window. He was told officers would be with him within an hour to which he replied: “I’ll be waiting.”

Mr Clarke said: “He was armed, ready and waiting for them. The caller appeared calm and composed, in control of himself and his emotion. He had carefully put in place a plan that he knew would ensure that an unsuspecting police officer or officers would be sent to the door.” When two officers arrived he flung open the front door and opened fire with his Glock firearm, said Mr Clarke.

They were each hit in the chest but as their body armour had stopped the bullets they were able to try to escape. PC Hughes ran down the path but was shot in the back just below her armoured vest, causing her to crash to the ground “immediately paralysed”. She was shot three times in the head as she lay helpless.

PC Bone managed to draw and fire her Taser but was hit by up to eight bullets. In all, the gunman aimed 24 shots at her, the jury was told. Just 31 seconds elapsed between PC Hughes switching off the police car engine and PC Bone firing the Taser.

The court was told that after handing himself in, the defendant, who faces four charges of murder and four of attempted murder, told an officer: “You were hounding my family so I took it out on yous.” He later said he was “sorry about those two that have been killed, I wish it was men”.