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Cold blooded police killer Dale Cregan to spend 'whole life' in jail

Judge tells Cregan 'You acted with premeditated savagery'

Police killer Dale Cregan has been given a whole life sentence for murdering four people and attempting to kill three others.

Described by Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy as a "scourge on our society", Cregan was given a whole life sentence at Preston Crown Court by Mr Justice Holroyde QC at the end of a trial which laid bare the sheer brutality of Manchester's underworld.

One-eyed Cregan was already on the run for the murders of David Short, 46, and son Mark, 23, when he killed policewomen Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, in a horrifying gun and grenade attack.

Sentencing the 30-year-old, Mr Justice Holroyde said he had "acted with pre-meditated savagery" in the "quite appalling" murders.

"You, Cregan, drew those two officers into a calculated trap for the sole purpose of murdering them in cold blood," he said.

Earlier today, Cregan was cleared of a charge of attempted murder involving a grenade attack on Sharon Hark, which he denied. But during his trial he had admitted the four murders and the attempted murders of three others, along with a count of causing an explosion with a hand grenade.

Nine other defendants faced trial alongside him on various charges linked to the deaths of the Shorts. Four of them were cleared today.

Cregan went on the run days before he killed David Short last August after he gunned down his son, Mark, in a pub in Droylsden, Greater Manchester, three months earlier.

The manhunt reached a ghastly conclusion on September 18 when he lured the constables with a bogus 999 call to a house in Abbey Gardens in Hattersley.

His last comment to the call handler as he was told officers were on the way was: "I'll be waiting."

He opened the front door as they walked up the front garden path and shot them in the chest with a Glock handgun.

Pc Hughes was hit eight times, including three strikes to the head as she lay on the ground.

Pc Bone was hit up to eight times after she managed to draw and fire her Taser at Cregan, who fired 32 bullets in total in barely half a minute.

He then left his "calling card" of a military grenade, which he threw it on the path where the officers lay.

The killer then dropped his gun and drove a short distance to Hyde police station where he calmly walked up to the counter clerk and said: "I'm wanted by the police and I've just done two coppers."

Cregan put his arms out to be handcuffed and said he was there to hand himself in.

He then told an officer: "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."

The spiral of violence began on May 25 last year when a balaclava-clad Cregan stepped into the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden and shot Mark Short, who died in the arms of his father.

On August 10, Cregan targeted Mr Short senior outside his home in Clayton as he unloaded furniture from his car.

He chased him through his house and shot him numerous times before throwing a grenade at him with "devastating consequences" , the first recorded time one had been used in the UK in this way.

At 1.10pm, on the 77th day of the trial and on the sixth day of deliberations, the jury came back into court with unanimous verdicts on all counts. The defendants were ordered to remain seated.

The first lot of verdicts were delivered in silence in the packed courtroom save for some stifled gasps as 'not guilty' was recorded on some counts.

Fiona Bone's sister, Vicky Bone shook her head and her father Paul Bone leaned back in his seat.

David Short's wife Michelle Kelly, sitting with members of her family, also shook her head and wiped away tears.

As Cregan was cleared of the remaining count he faced, there was a shout of "Yeah!" from the back of the dock and Cregan turned around with a smile

He smiled and shook hands with the other defendants after the verdicts. His co-accused Anthony Wilkinson looked directly at the public gallery where the victims' families were seated, with a broad smile on his face.

Leon Atkinson, 35, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Ryan Hadfield, 29, from Droylsden, and Matthew James, 33, from Clayton, were cleared of the murder of Mark Short in the Cotton Tree pub and the attempted murders of three others in the pub.

Luke Livesey, 28, from Hattersley, and Damian Gorman, 38, from Glossop, were found guilty of those charges.

Anthony Wilkinson, 34, from Beswick, pleaded guilty during the trial to murdering David Short and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. He was cleared of one count of attempted murder of Mrs Hark on the same day and cleared of causing an explosion with a hand grenade.

Francis Dixon, 38, from Stalybridge, was acquitted of the murder of David Short, the attempted murder of Mrs Hark and causing an explosion with a hand grenade.

Jermaine Ward, 24, was found guilty of the murder of David Short but cleared of the attempted murder of Mrs Hark and causing an explosion with a hand grenade.

Mohammed Ali, 32, from Chadderton, was found guilty of assisting an offender.

The Crown had alleged that last summer's violence was sparked by a "long-standing feud" between two rival Manchester families - the Shorts and the Atkinsons.

The Cotton Tree shooting was said to have been ordered by Atkinson and carried out by Cregan with the help of others.

Atkinson looked at the floor and put a hand on his head as he was cleared of all charges.

Dixon shouted "Yes!" as he was cleared. Ward, sitting behind him, burst into tears.

Roderick Carus QC, defending Atkinson, asked for his client to be discharged, along with the other defendants cleared of all charges - Hadfield, James, and Dixon.

Dixon is on a life licence for his past serious convictions, which the jury was not told about as they were ruled inadmissible before the trial.

Cregan shook hands with Wilkinson and Ali as they were taken down past him in the dock.

Some of the senior detectives looked grim-faced as the men left court.

Earlier the family of Fiona Bone called for their daughter’s killer to face the death penalty, with her father, Paul Bone, describing how he still felt “numb” about her death.

Mr Bone was speaking as four men were convicted of two murders and three attempted murders leading up to the deaths of the two officers in Mottram, Greater Manchester. Another man was found guilty of helping the gang escape.

Mr Bone, 64, an aircraft engineer, said: “In certain circumstances I think it (the death penalty) would be a good idea and this possibly is one of them.”

He added: “One of the problems is when they did away with hanging, in the 60s, we were told life would mean life, now it's very flexible, or life is a very flexible sentence. All right, Theresa May has said life for killing a policeman, it should extend to all uniformed public servants.”

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