Police killings: men plead not guilty

Date published: 21 December 2012

A MAN has appeared in court accused of murdering two women police officers in a gun and grenade attack.

Police constables Nicola Hughes (23), from Diggle, and Fiona Bone (32), from Sale, were killed on the morning of September 18 as they responded to a report of a burglary in Hattersley.

Dale Cregan (29) has previously pleaded not guilty to murdering the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers, Mark Short (23), in Manchester last May and Mark’s father David almost three months later.

Amateur boxer Mr Short was gunned down at the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden on May 25 and his 46–year–old father was found dead on August 10 following a blast at a house in neigbouring Clayton.

Cregan, of no fixed address, appeared by video–link with nine co–defendants at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.

Matthew James (33), from Clayton, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mark Short and the attempted murders of John Collins, Ryan Pridding and Michael Belcher, who were also in the Cotton Tree pub on the night of the shooting.

Francis Dixon (37), from Stalybridge, pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Short, the attempted murder of Sharon Hark and one count of causing an explosion with a hand grenade.

Mohammed Ali (23), from Chadderton, denied assisting an offender.

The men were remanded in custody by Mr Justice Holroyde until their trial at Preston Crown Court on February 4. The judge also directed that a preliminary hearing take place in Preston on February 1 and told the defendants they may attend by video–link if they wish to.