Category Archives: Murder Trial
One-eyed police killer Dale Cregan is set to die in prison with a whole life sentence for murdering four people after his long-running trial came to an end today.
Cregan, 30, had previously pleaded guilty during the trial to killing policewomen Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, and father and son David Short, 46, and Mark Short, 23, last year.
He also admitted the attempted murders of three others and causing an explosion with a hand-grenade.
A jury at Preston Crown Court today found him not guilty of one remaining count of attempted murder involving a grenade attack on Sharon Hark, which he denied.
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 unarmed constables with a bogus 999 call to a house in Abbey Gardens in Hattersley.
He gave a false name as he reported a concrete slab had been thrown through a back window.
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 immediately shot them in the chest with a Glock handgun.
Cregan shot Pc Hughes 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 as Cregan discharged 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 two 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.”
On May 25 last year a balaclava-clad Cregan stepped into the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden and shot Mark Short who died in the arms of his father David.
On August 10, Cregan targeted David Short outside his home in Clayton, Greater Manchester as he unloaded furniture from his car.
He chased him through and out of his house and shot him numerous times before a grenade was thrown at him with “devastating consequences” for his torso – the first time a military grenade had been deployed in the country in this way.
Cregan was on trial with nine other men who faced allegations concerning the deaths of either David or Mark Short.
The first lot of verdicts were delivered in silence in the packed courtroom save for some stiffled gasps as not guilty verdicts were returned 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 also shook her head, sat beside her other members of her family wiped away tears.
Verdicts were also returned on the nine other defendants.
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 the 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.
Proceedings were adjourned until 2.15pm by Mr Justice Holroyde when he will hear mitigation.
Sentencing may follow today.
Cregan smiled and shook hands with the other defendants after the verdicts. His co-accused Wilkinson looked directly at the public gallery where the victims’ families were seated, with a broad smile on his face.
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, but the defendants were ordered to remain seated as the verdicts were given.
Atkinson, the man accused of organising the initial murder, 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.
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.
Trial judge Mr Justice Holroyde QC told the jury that matters may be concluded today, with the convicted defendants sentenced, later this afternoon, subject to legal discussions.
Roderick Carus QC, defending Atkinson, asked for his client to be discharged, along with those of 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.
Cregan shook hands with Wilkinson and Ali as they were taken down past him in the dock.
Some of the senior police detectives looked grim-faced as they left court.
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners said Cregan typified the kind of individual that deserved to die in jail.
“So often we hear of prison sentences being handed out to those who could easily be dealt with in the community – Cregan represents the kind of dangerous individual who belongs at the extreme far end of that offending scale and rightly he should die in jail.
“All those he murdered had a right to life, they each had loved ones and all of them had a right to a future – the two police officers he murdered ironically came to what they thought was his aid and he butchered them; he deserves to die in jail.”
A double killer found guilty of a second brutal murder after his release from prison was jailed for life today and told that he will never be freed.
David Cook, 65, was yesterday found guilty of beating neighbour Leonard Hill, 64, unconscious and strangling him for petty cash.
The killing was a re-enactment of a merciless murder of a Sunday school teacher 24 years before for which Cook was jailed for life.
A judge at Newport Crown Court jailed him for life again today calling him a “pathological liar” whose murder of a trusting neighbour was chilling.
Judge Justice Griffith Williams said: “The sentence is one of life in prison.
“I consider the seriousness of this offence is exceptional so there must be a whole life order which means you will never be considered for release at some future date.
“You will spend your whole life in prison.”
The judge’s comments came today as questions were being asked about how such a man could have been released in the first place.
Little more than three years before he was freed on licence in late 2009 Cook went missing from an open prison.
Police at the time issued a public warning not to approach him as a week-long manhunt got under way.
He gave himself in more than a week later but the incident did not act to prevent his eventual release into the community.
The judge was at pains today to underline the fact that Mr Hill had in no way sexually propositioned Cook.
Evidence during the trial clearly supported this, but Cook had claimed he went into a rage as a result of such an incident.
The jury yesterday dismissed his claim in favour of the prosecution which argued that the murder was motivated simply by money.
That again echoed Cook’s motive for murdering Berkshire Sunday school teacher Beryl Maynard 24 years earlier.
Passing sentence today, the judge underlined how Cook used lies to manipulate the people around him to change address several times.
Each occasion was triggered by Cook’s need to flee creditors chasing him for payment of debts which had risen to £5,800.
“You are a pathological liar who does not scruple to tell any lie,” the judge told him.
He said that, in making a final move to an address in Rhymney, Cook found himself living next door to Mr Hill, a man whose reputation he had “wickedly traduced” – “Just as you lied at your trial in 1988 for the murder of Mrs Maynard,” he said.
Speaking of Mr Hill, he added: “The evidence established beyond doubt he was a very shy, anxious, heterosexual man. He was described by his brother as a gentle soul.
“The behaviour you alleged on his part was the very antithesis of his nature.”
The judge said that, while Cook’s motive for murdering Mr Hill was money, there was no possibility that he would find enough to clear his debts.
“You just wanted money for your immediate needs to fund activities in Cardiff and a lifestyle away from Rhymney.”
He said the murder of Mr Hill “was carried out in a chilling way as you first rendered him unconscious before you trussed him up and killed him with a ligature.
“Evidence suggests that he was unconscious or semi-conscious at the time. We cannot be certain.”
Cook’s conviction yesterday and the sentence today ensuring he will never be free again was widely welcomed.
But any joy at the outcome was tempered by the knowledge that Mr Hill would be alive today had Cook been kept behind bars.
The victim’s immediate family live in Spain and were not in court yesterday to hear the verdict.
But speaking from his home in Torrevieja in a brief TV interview yesterday, Mr Hill’s brother, John, said: “I am going to miss him for the rest of my life, and all the family will.
“It seems a bit of a cliche but he really was a gentle man.”
His wife, Caroll, said she was “disgusted” by the way Cook was monitored and said he should never have been placed next door to Mr Hill.
“Why would you put somebody like that next to somebody who wouldn’t understand? He should never have been put there,” she said, also speaking from Spain, in a BBC Radio Wales interview.
She said nobody had thought of Mr Hill’s welfare and the potential impact of putting Cook next door to him.
“No-one had even looked into who lived next door to him and was he now vulnerable against attack by Cook.
“Because it seems (Cook) only had one way of dealing with any kind of problem and that was with violence.”
She added that Mr Hill’s family had met the Probation Service and accused it of failing in its duty of care to the wider community.
“I feel they are utterly responsible and they know that,” she said.
Mrs Hill said the first failing had been with whoever had carried out the risk assessment on Cook before he was released.
She added: “I need to know whether the Probation Service knew he had all this debt. I need lots of answers.”
A man accused of murdering a gay supermarket worker embarked on a campaign against uncaught paedophiles using “military strategy” to track them down after overhearing convicted prisoners planning new offences while in prison, a court heard.
Christopher Hunnisett, who is on trial accused of killing supermarket worker Peter Bick, told the court he used the internet and a network of “live sources” – some made in prison - to investigate rumours of child abuse.
He assigned possible offenders militaristic “call signs” depending on the strength of evidence against them, he said.
The jury at Lewes Crown Court was told Hunnisett, 28, started the operation after being acquitted and freed in September 2010 following a retrial for the murder of the Rev Ronald Glazebrook, whom he accused of abusing him, for which he had already served nine years of a life sentence.
While on remand ahead of the second trial, the court heard today, he took part in “therapy sessions” at Grendon Underwood prison in Buckinghamshire, designed as a form of restorative justice to try to treat sex offenders. But he overheard offenders planning a paedophile ring.
Hunnisett told the court today he investigated Bick, 57, after being told a “rumour” about him, saying the police lacked enough power to catch paedophiles.
Giving evidence, he told the court that after “philosophy” discussions with other prisoners on how to deal with sex offenders, he decided he wanted to track down “rapists, paedophiles, those who force women into prostitution, sex traffickers” by breaking the law and hacking into profiles on sex websites to see what users were doing – something he claimed the police cannot do.
“There are so many paedophiles in this country, over 600,000 who just offend against children,” he said.
“Even if I stopped more than 100 a day I would take over 20 years to deal with them. It is impossible for one person to stop them all.
“I commend the police and the child protection agencies for what they are doing but they are beaten by certain rules and regulations.
“If you really want to find out … you have to look at their (website) profiles and see who they are talking to. It is not hard to find these people but the police are beaten by the rules.”
While in the witness box Hunnisett used military terms like “in the field” to describe how he investigated claims of sex offending, using call signs like “Sierra” to describe a “suspect” and “Tango” to describe a “target” against whom he had proof of illegal activities.
One they had been “dealt with” they were reclassified as “x-ray”.
He admitted reading books about intelligence agencies to help him plan his activities.
He said he tracked down Bick after a contact gave him the name of a “Peter” living in Bexhill, showed him a digital picture and told him a “rumour” of what he was alleged to have done.
Hunnisett said he investigated and met several men called Peter before he found Mr Bick.
Mr Bick was killed during the early hours of January 11 last year after Hunnisett, whom he had met for sex, inflicted five severe blows to his head with a hammer and strangled him with a shoelace, the court has been told previously.
The jury has also heard that Hunnisett wrote to his girlfriend, Lucy Anderson, while on remand, admitting the killing.
It read: “I know you do not understand why I did what I did. In short, I simply wanted to stop some really nasty people hurting kids, the young, the weak, the vulnerable.
“I never planned to hurt him, I just wanted to stop him, get evidence on him to get him to confess and tell people what he was.”
Hunnisett went on to tell Miss Anderson that when Mr Bick confessed to him he lost control, the court heard.
He added: “You have no idea how mad it makes me knowing that someone can do that and they think it’s okay.
“It’s disgusting and they have no idea how much it destroys a person and damages them, and no one gives a damn about it.”
The trial has already heard there is no evidence that Mr Bick was a paedophile.
Hunnisett, of Chanctonbury Drive, Hastings, East Sussex, denies murder but admits manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.
Hunnisett told the court how he killed Mr Bick while “interrogating” him using techniques that were “the same sort of thing as waterboarding” – before leaving to watch another potential target.
He said he had his body extensively tattooed with symbols of his “moral code” while inprison and his plan with each target was to gain enough evidence to allow the police to arrest them and have them imprisoned “for ever”.
He said he had contacted Mr Bick via a website and met him at his flat, where he claimed the older man had admitted committing sex acts with youths aged 14 and 16.
He then attempted to “honeytrap” him, claiming he could arrange a threesome with himself and a public schoolboy aged 15, whom he invented using the online alias “Golden Boy”, while the boy’s parents were away on holiday.
He claimed Mr Bick agreed but before it was due to happen he travelled to Bexhill, where he told him the boy was unable to join them.
Hunnisett said he then stripped naked and committed a sex act while Mr Bick watched, claiming it was part of his cover. Under the pretext of sex games he then tied the also naked Mr Bick to his bed with shoelaces tied around his neck, saying the older man had admitted it was something he had done with one of the young boys.
But as soon as Mr Bick was restrained Hunnisett began to use force, grabbing a camera and ordering Mr Bick to make a videotape confession of his alleged crimes, which Hunnisett claimed he did.
“I think he thought I was going to blackmail him with the information,” he said.
“When I told him I was going to expose him, that is when he started to struggle and he got his hand free and got me by the throat around the neck.
“With his other hand he reached for a box on the (bedside) table. He then went to grab the hammer that was there but he was restricted by the neck lace.
“He was able to grasp it by his fingertips and I was able to wrench it from his hand.
“I hit him once to get his hand off me but it got tighter. I hit him three, maybe four times after that.”
He said the man “was probably dead after the first blow” but he tried to undo the shoelace when he slumped forward and it started to choke him.
After the killing Hunnisett told the court he thought about committing suicide but decided against it. He said he washed Mr Bick’s body and spent three or four hours “proving” the flat, scouring it for evidence of sex crimes, which he claimed he found.
He said he destroyed electronic equipment, including laptops and memory sticks with the evidence on, but left the body surrounded by items he hoped would lead police to work out why Mr Bick had been killed.
He then stole Mr Bick’s car and disposed of seven bags of stolen material, including the hammer, in remote locations. He then drove to another target, named in court only as Mr A, whom he suspected of sex attacks on girls, to watch his home.
The trial continues.