Dale Cregan 'hero' text drug dealer sentenced

Lee Willis Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption A mobile phone belonging to Lee Willis had pictures of him with members of Cregan's family in a pub

A drug dealer who sent a text calling Dale Cregan a "hero" 24 hours after he murdered two police officers has been jailed for eight years.

Lee Willis, 31, of Clarence Street, Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, went on the run in June last year after admitting numerous drug offences.

He was eventually found on New Year's Day and has been jailed at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.

He was also ordered to repay £40,000 and forfeit his BMW.

Greater Manchester Police said when Willis was originally arrested and charged in November 2012 he told magistrates he had no links whatsoever to Cregan.

But when his mobile phone was forensically examined, he was pictured with members of Cregan's family in a pub, a spokesman said.

Police said they also found a text Willis sent to a friend, dated the day after the murders of PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in September 2012, which contained a picture of Cregan and underneath the word "Hero".

Willis pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply and handling stolen goods, a police spokesman said.

Cregan was jailed for life at Preston Crown Court in June last year for murdering father and son Mark and David Short and PCs Bone and Hughes.

The two officers were shot dead while they investigated a suspected burglary in Hattersley, Tameside.

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