Security high as Cregan faces court

Blackpool Citizen: Dale Cregan appeared in court charged with four murders, including those of two female police officers (GMP/PA) Dale Cregan appeared in court charged with four murders, including those of two female police officers (GMP/PA)

One-eyed Dale Cregan has appeared in court accused of four murders including the shooting and grenade attack that killed two policewomen.

Pcs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, described as "wonderful human beings" and dedicated police officers, died in Hattersley, Tameside, on Tuesday morning.

The defendant also faced charges of murdering father and son David and Mark Short earlier this year and four attempted murders.

Cregan, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt, was brought into the secure dock at Manchester City Magistrates' Court flanked by four police officers. The hearing lasted just two minutes. Two more officers dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with machine guns stood outside the dock.

Cregan, who has grown a thick beard, scanned the courtroom and stared over at the public gallery, where relatives of the Short family were seated. Cregan sat down as he was brought into the dock but got to his feet after he was asked to stand by District Judge Jonathan Taaffe. He wore a false black onyx eye in his left eye socket and spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the courtroom, which was packed with reporters.

Judge Taaffe then read out the eight charges the defendant faces, including that of murdering the two officers. The double killing provoked national shock and outrage after the unarmed policewoman were lured by a routine burglary call to a house on the sprawling Hattersley estate.

Cregan was arrested a short time later after walking into Hyde police station two miles away. The 29-year-old was already wanted by police in relation to the murders of David and Mark Short in separate attacks in May and August this year. He has been charged with those two murders and also faces four further counts of attempted murder of three men and one woman who were either injured or present during the attacks on Mr Short senior and junior.

The court heard that the four murder charges and four attempted murder charges were so serious they could only be dealt with by law at a higher court and the case was automatically sent to Manchester Crown Court for a further hearing on Monday. Cregan was remanded into custody and there was no application for bail by his solicitor, David Caplin.

Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on a visit to Greater Manchester Police's headquarters, said: "I wanted to come here to Manchester myself to pay my own personal respects to the two officers, the women police officers, who fell in the line of duty. I think the whole country is profoundly shocked by what has happened and it is right we praise the work that they did and remember all they have done. I think it also important that the Government makes sure that it is doing everything it can to help the Greater Manchester Police force tackle organised crime and gang-related violence, and I think that is an important conversation and important work to be done too."

Mr Cameron met relatives of both Pc Bone and Pc Hughes at the headquarters as part of the hour-long visit. It was not disclosed exactly whom he met but he spoke to them in one room at the same time. It is understood the Prime Minister expressed a wish to meet the two families. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy also updated him on the investigation before he departed.

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