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Wanted man held over police deaths
PC Nicola Hughes was killed in the line of duty while attending a 'routine incident' (Greater Manchester Police/PA)
One of the country's most wanted men is in custody - and facing accusations that he killed two unarmed female constables before giving himself up.
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said the brave young officers had been sent to investigate what appeared to be a routine burglary report when Dale Cregan, 29, attacked them with a gun and a grenade. He said: "It would appear Cregan has deliberately done this in an act of cold-blooded murder."
After the murders, the fugitive, already wanted in connection with separate gun and grenade attacks that killed father and son David and Mark Short, gave himself up at nearby Hyde police station in Greater Manchester.
Sir Peter named the officers as Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23. He paid tribute to Miss Hughes, describing her as a "chatterbox" and a "great bobby" who was "always smiling", while he said Miss Bone was a "calm, gentle woman", an "excellent bobby" and had been in the middle of planning her wedding.
He told reporters: "Clearly we are devastated by the loss of two of our officers. This is one of the darkest days in the history of the Greater Manchester Police if not for the police service overall, because we have lost two deeply loved and valued colleagues, because they are part of our team. Policing is very much a family.
"But also because of the huge efforts that officers had been making to arrest and detain Dale Cregan. Obviously the officers involved in that inquiry are shattered by this outcome."
The chief constable said it was routine to send unarmed officers to a burglary call.
"We believe that Dale Cregan was in a house in Abbey Gardens overnight, and at some point this morning has either himself made a call or had somebody else make a call reporting a burglary," Sir Peter said.
"This particular address was not known to us. So as would be routine, two unarmed officers were sent to the scene. When they arrived, it appears that Cregan emerged into the road and killed these two officers. A firearm was used, a grenade was also used."
Sir Peter said he believed Cregan had been "protected by a criminal conspiracy to harbour him", adding that the force was "fully determined" to investigate that conspiracy and bring those involved "to book". Two people from the house in Hattersley, a man and a woman, are helping police with inquiries.