A 29-YEAR-old man who was last night charged with the murder of two unarmed policewomen was preparing to flee to Ireland.
Friends of Dale Cregan said he had bought a one-way ferry ticket to Ireland before the officers were killed in a gun and grenade attack.
He is also accused of killing father and son David and Mark Short in separate incidents earlier this year. And he faces four charges of attempted murder.
Mr Cregan walked into a police station on Tuesday after policewomen Fiona Bone (32) and Nicola Hughes (23) were murdered as they investigated bogus reports of a burglary in Hattersley, Greater Manchester.
Mr Cregan was one of Britain's most wanted men and was sought by police for the murder of a father and son in separate gun and grenade attacks.
Police yesterday rejected accusations that they should not have sent two unarmed female officers into the Hattersley estate, where police have conducted raids on at least two addresses in the past month and mounted armed patrols.
Friends said Mr Cregan had been in hiding locally for weeks and appeared to revel in his notoriety after being identified by Greater Manchester Police as the country's most wanted man.
Huge posters featuring him were put up in the city as part of police efforts to catch him.
Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, last night said: "The tragic events this week in which Police Constables Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes lost their lives in the line of duty have shocked and appalled the whole country.
"I have today authorised the police to charge 29-year-old Dale Cregan with their murders and with the murders of Mark Short, who was killed at the Cotton Tree Inn in Droylsden on 25 May, and David Short, who was killed at his home in Clayton on 10 August."
Mr Cregan will appear at Manchester City Magistrates' Court today.