THE IRISHMAN at the head of Greater Manchester Police has said that he feels he let down the families of murdered PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes by “failing to protect” their daughters.
Sir Peter Fahy made the comments during a witness impact statement as their killer Dale Cregan was sentenced to life behind bars yesterday afternoon.
Fahy, who is chief constable of the Manchester force, branded the deaths an affront to democracy.
One-eyed Cregan pleaded guilty to murdering PCs Bone and Hughes, who responded to what they believed was a routine burglary call in Hattersley on 18 September 2012, but was in fact a trap set by Cregan.
He will never be released from prison after being sentenced for their murders at Preston Crown Court yesterday.
Over the course of the high security trial the court heard how the killer shot the two officers repeatedly before throwing a grenade at them and then drove off at speed to a nearby police station where he handed himself in.
Cregan also pleaded guilty to the murder of Mark Short and the attempted murders of three others on 25 May 2012, after Mark was shot in a pub in Droylsden.
As Cregan was sentenced yesterday, Sir Peter, whose roots lie in Co. Galway, delivered a witness impact statement to the court.
He said: “The deaths of Fiona and Nicola, the brutality of their killing the fact that they were shot just because they were police officers at a time when they were offering no threat to their killer deeply shocked every member of the force and of course the public that we serve.
“There was a severe impact on the officers and staff that knew them and served with them.
I have some officers who will never return to work such is the degree of trauma they suffered from what they experienced that day.
“Police officers deal with death, violence and shocking sights as part of their daily work and learn to rationalise the experience.
“On the other hand when this involves someone they know and serve with this coping mechanism fails and the trauma is the same as any other individual would suffer.”
He added: “The murders of Fiona and Nicola were all the more devastating for the force because they challenged that fundamental nature of our style of policing.
“Officers accept that there is a risk and are able to assess that risk when they attend incidents in line with their training and experience. This does not include being lured to the purported scene of a crime for the sole purpose of killing them in cold blood. It was the sheer callousness and brutality of the killing which affected members of the force so deeply.”
He added: “As chief constable I am protective of my officers and tremendously proud of what they do. At the swearing in of new recruits I meet the parent of the officers and can sense their feelings of trepidation for the safety of their loved ones as they don the uniform for the first time. Inevitably I feel I have let down the families of Fiona and Nicola because we have not been able to protect them.
“The deaths of Fiona and Nicola led to a huge demonstration of public support expressed in letters, e mails to our book of condolence, charitable donations and attendance in the streets of Manchester at the times of their funerals.
“It was the worst event in the history of Greater Manchester Police and arguably the worst in the history of British policing since the murder of three officers in 1966.
“These were two very special young people who stepped forward to do their duty to the public accepting all the risks and carrying out their duty in a dedicated totally professional way. Greater Manchester Police regards their murder as an affront to our democracy.”
Cregan was among 10 defendants who were tried together at Preston Crown Court.
On Thursday, June 13 Cregan, 30, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the murders of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes at an earlier hearing. He later pleaded guilty to the murders of Mark Short and David Short, three counts of attempted murder and causing an explosion.He was sentenced to a whole life term imprisonment and will never be released.
Anthony Wilkinson, 34, from the Beswick area of Manchester, pleaded guilty to one count of murder (David Short) and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 35 years before he is eligible for parole.
Jermaine Anton Ward, 25, has been found guilty of one count of murder (David Short). He was sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 33 years before he is eligible for parole.
Mohammed Imran Ali, 32, from the Chadderton area, has been found guilty of assisting an offender in connection with the death of David Short. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.