Man accused of killing two female officers ‘fired 32 bullets at police in 30 second ambush’, court told
DALE CREGAN fired a total of 32 bullets at two unarmed police officers during a carefully planned ambush which lasted just 31 seconds, a court has heard.
The 29-year-old continued firing at the officers when they were on the ground and only stopped when his Glock handgun, which had been fitted with an extended magazine was empty.
PC Fiona Bone, 32, was shot eight times as she desperately discharged her Taser weapon, while her colleague 23-year-old Nicola Hughes was also hit eight times.
The court heard how Cregan coolly stood over the officer as she lay on the ground and fired three bullets into the back and side of her head.
Before fleeing the scene in a stolen car Cregan, who had been on the run from police for three months left what the prosecution described as his “calling card”, by throwing a hand grenade at the two stricken officers.
It exploded causing further injuries to PC Hughes, but the court heard she was already dead by that point.
Jurors were also told how Cregan, who was wanted at the time for the murders of father and son David and Mark Short, who had been shot in separate attacks in May and August, carefully planned the ambush.
On the evening of September 17 last year he turned up at the home of a man he vaguely knew because he had cut his hair in the past.
It is alleged that he deliberately chose the house in Abbey Gardens, Hattersley because it lay at the end of a cul-de-sac meaning any persons or vehicles approaching would be clearly visible.
The jury were told: "It was a carefully chosen property that would provide the ideal location for the ambush that was to follow."
After forcing his way into the house he made the terrified and family cooperate and spent the evening drinking beer and smoking cigars.
The following morning after demanding a haircut from the occupant of the house and then taking a bath, Cregan dialled 999 and claimed someone had thrown a concrete block through the back window.
He asked for police assistance and when the call handler said they would send someone, he chillingly replied: “I’ll be waiting.”
Continuing to outline the prosecution case on day two of the trial at Preston Crown Court, Nicholas Clarke QC said: “Cregan’s carefully laid plan had been successful. He had lured two unarmed officers to his door and he was armed, ready and waiting for them.”
He went on: “As Nicola and Fiona walked through the small front garden, he opened the front door and immediately fired his Glock.
“Both officers were shot to the chest. The body armour that they were wearing protected them and the bullets did not penetrate.
“Examination of the scene after the event shows that after the first shots both officers made a tactical retreat.
“As they retreated more shots were fired. Nicola Hughes was shot just below her armoured vest in the middle of her back causing her to fall forwards paralyzed onto the path. As she was falling or lying flat on her stomach she was shot three more times.”
Mr Clarke said Cregan then turned his attention to PC Bone who was trapped in front of the lounge window in the garden.
He said Cregan fired 24 bullets at her as she desperately tried to discharge her taser weapon.
She did manage to fire the Taser but only into the concrete path.
Mr Clarke explained: “Most of the bullets struck Fiona Bone's body armour or the wall at the front of the house, but she was the central target. PC Bone was shot between five and eight times, receiving a total of eight gunshot related injuries.
“As she turned and fell one bullet managed to get through under her arm in the gap at the side of her body armour. She was killed by a perforating shot to the upper left side of her chest which caused fatal injuries to the top her heart.
“Cregan was not finished. He turned his attention back to PC Hughes who lay paralysed on the floor and fired three more shots into the back and side of her head. She was shot eight times causing a total of seven gunshot related injuries.
"Four of the shots caused potentially fatal wounds. One had severed her spinal cord, causing instant paralysis and a potentially fatal wound to a major artery.
"Three final shots into the head severly damaged her brain."
Mr Clarke went on: “Cregan discharged a total of 32 bullets at two unarmed Police Officers.”
The court heard that Cregan then left the scene in a stolen BMW car.
Mr Clarke told the jury: "Before he fled Abbey Gardens he made sure that he left his usual calling card. He launched another military fragmentation grenade back towards the garden of number 30, where the two police officers were lying on the floor.
"This exploded causing further injuries to Nicola, who was nearest to the grenade. She had already been fatally injured by the gunshot wounds inflicted upon her. The grenade did not cause or contribute to her death."
It is alleged Cregan then drove directly to Hyde Police station where he calmly told the officer at the front desk: "I'm wanted by the police and I've just done two coppers."
Jurors were shown video footage of Cregan arriving at the police station wearing shorts, a hooded sweatshirt and trainers.
He could be seen chatting on his mobile phone to his girlfriend as he handed himself in.
When asked if he had any weapons about his person, he responded: "I dropped the gun at the scene and I've murdered two police officers. You were hounding my family so I took it out on yous."
He later told officer: "Sorry about those two that have been killed, I wish it was men."
Cregan is charged with the murder of Mark Short in a pub shooting in May last year, Davis Short in August and the murders of the two police officers.
He is also charged with four counts of attempted murder and causing an explosion.
Also are charged are nine of his alleged associates who are accused of a range of offences including murder, attempted murder, firearms offences and assisting an offender.
The others variously charged are Leon Atkinson, 35, Luke Livesey, 27, Damian Gorman, 38, Ryan Hadfield, 2, Matthew James, 33, Francis Dixon, 37, Anthony Wilkinson, 33, Jermaine Ward, 24, and Mohammed Ali, 32.
The defendants deny all the charges and the trial continues.