Police call-handler 'fed information on hunt for Dale Cregan'

She passed details to her boyfriend who shared it with killer's mother, court told

A police call-handler fed secret information to her boyfriend during the massive manhunt for his friend Dale Cregan, a court heard today.

Kathryn Smith, 25, a civilian with Greater Manchester Police, used the police's computer systems while on her shift at force HQ to check developments in Operation Dakar - the hunt to find the one-eyed killer, it is alleged.

She passed information on to her boyfriend Sean Booth, 31, who lived on the same street and grew up with Cregan, which was shared with Cregan's mother Anita Cregan, 56.

All three deny a single count of misconduct in a public office, Smith by looking for and disclosing confidential information and Booth and Cregan by aiding and abetting her to commit the offence.

At the time of the alleged offence by the defendants, Dale Cregan was the prime suspect in the murders of father and son David and Mark Short, prosecutor Nicholas Clarke QC told Manchester Crown Court.

Mark Short was shot dead in the Cotton Tree Pub in Droylsden on May 25 last year and his father gunned down and blown up with a hand grenade at his home in Clayton, Manchester, 11 weeks later.

A £50,000 reward was put up for the arrest of Cregan, considered "extremely dangerous" by police, the court heard.

Officers swamped east Manchester and Droylsden, where Cregan lived, and bugged the Cregan family home on Sutton Drive, the jury heard.

At the same time Smith would go into work and "habitually" monitor events in the area, looking at information and maps on police computers that she, as a call handler, was not supposed to access.

"Whenever the system took her away to deal with a call from a different area, she would almost immediately drag it back to Droylsden," Mr Clarke told the court.

"She concentrated on the high level of police activity surrounding the manhunt for Dale Cregan and the Sutton Drive area where his family reside. Smith's role does not permit her to act this way."

The jury were shown screen-shots of her computer use on the evening of September 4 last year, showing how Smith viewed details of a call taken by police giving details of a possible sighting of Cregan on Manchester Road in Droylsden.

She used her computer to look up the exact locations of all the officers and police cars and vans in the area and accessed maps showing armed response patrols in the vicinity.

Smith, of Condor Close, Droylsden, and Booth and Cregan, both of Sutton Drive, Droylsden, all deny the offence, allegedly committed between September 1 2011 and September 9 2012.

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