Police murders suspect Dale Cregan: Judge says 'fair trial critical'

Judge Gilbart and Dale Cregan
Image caption Dale Cregan appeared via videolink at the hearing at Manchester Crown Court

A judge has warned the media against prejudicing the case of a man accused of murdering two police officers and two men in Greater Manchester.

Issuing an order barring coverage of Dale Cregan's case before his trial, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said it was "critical [he] receives a fair trial".

Mr Cregan, 29, appeared at Manchester Crown Court via videolink charged with the murders of PC Fiona Bone, PC Nicola Hughes, Mark Short and David Short.

The case was adjourned until November.

The accused, of no fixed address, also faces four counts of attempted murder and was further remanded.

Issuing an order under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, Judge Gilbart said he was concerned with "material which has been published and to press conference answers and accounts, which have been widely disseminated".

"The court is very much aware of the intense interest the public will have in what went on and why," he said.

"But the punishment of a man or woman charged with crime can only happen in a free democratic society if he is convicted after due process.

"It is critical to the maintenance of that due process that any defendant who denies a charge receives a fair trial.

"It cannot and must not be decided on the basis of material published otherwise."

He added that "deciding what happened is a matter for a jury to consider, and not for the press, broadcasting media, internet sites, police or politicians".

"Due process is an important safeguard not just for any defendant, but also for the relatives of the victims and the public interest in seeing justice done.

"I remind everyone who is thinking of publishing or broadcasting anything in this case which lies outside the proper bounds of the potential for prosecution."

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