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Judge's warning over Cregan trial
A senior judge has issued a warning to police, press and politicians as one-eyed alleged killer Dale Cregan appeared for the first time at Crown Court.
Cregan, 29, appeared by videolink at Manchester Crown Court, just a mile from the city's Strangeways jail where he is being held accused of the murders of Pcs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, in Hattersley, Greater Manchester, on Tuesday.
He spoke only twice to reply "Yeah" when asked if he was Dale Cregan and if he could hear proceedings. For most of the hearing, Cregan leaned forward with his elbows on the table in front of him and his head resting in his hands, listening to proceedings.
The hearing was largely administrative and as Cregan was not appearing in person, security was scaled down considerably from his first appearance at the city magistrates' court on Friday.
But the Honorary Recorder of Manchester, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, began proceedings by emphasising the need to ensure Cregan gets a fair trial over the four murders and four attempted murders he is accused of.
"There has also been some comment from politicians, including those of the greatest seniority. Deciding what happened in these current cases, and the determination of whether or not this or these defendants or any other defendant is or are guilty of this or any other crime, is a matter for a jury to consider and not for the press, broadcasting media, internet sites, police or politicians."
Judge Gilbart said Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy had spoken "frankly and movingly" about the loss of two of his officers and it was only right that senior politicians through the media comment on such "terrible events", "provided that they do so within the usual proper bounds".
The law prohibits the media from publishing any details about a defendant or alleged offences that could interfere with the administration of justice and a fair trial. Judge Gilbart said it is the court's job to ensure comment and "background" material about the case does not prejudice a fair trial.
As well as being accused of the two officers' murders, Cregan is also charged with the murders of David Short, 46, and his son, Mark, 23, who were killed in May and August this year. Cregan was remanded in custody to appear by video-link at Liverpool Crown Court on November 5.
Anthony Wilkinson, 33, and Jermaine Ward, 24, have been charged with murder and attempted murder in relation to David Short's death and are next due at Manchester Crown Court on November 9. Damian Gorman, 37, Luke Livesey, 27, Ryan Hadfield, 28, and Matthew James, 33, have all been charged with the murder of Mark Short and will appear at the same court on November 2.