Cregan trial hears taxi driver 'feared masked gunman'

A taxi driver thought he was going to be shot by a masked gunman making his getaway after killing a man in a Greater Manchester pub, the Dale Cregan murder trial has heard.

One-eyed Cregan, who dramatically admitted on Tuesday to murdering two women police officers, is also said to have murdered Mark Short who was gunned down in the Cotton Tree pub in Droylsden last May.

The killings of Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, and Pc Fiona Bone, 32, last September came after Cregan went on the run following a revenge attack which erupted amid a simmering family feud in east Manchester, jurors have heard.

Cregan, 29, is alleged to have murdered David Short, 46, the head of the Short family, and his son, Mark, 23, who had rowed with another local family, the Atkinsons, in the months before murdering the policewomen. He continues to deny the Short murders.

Cregan is said to have pulled up in a Ford Focus car outside the Cotton Tree on the night of May 25 with fellow murder co-accused Luke Livesey, 27, and Damian Gorman, 38, before a balaclava-clad gunman entered the pub.

Preston Crown Court heard how a passing taxi driver witnessed the assailant stand in the entrance and fire a gun from his outstretched hand as he heard "five or six bangs".

In a statement read out to the court, Viqar Qureshi said: "I saw smoke and sparks come from a nozzle. I saw a black-coloured handgun. He was clearly letting off shots as he stood there. Once he left the entrance door he made his way to the Focus and got into a passenger side door. It was all over in a couple of seconds. The gunman made eye contact with me. I was worried he was going to pull the trigger on me."

Inside the pub, Mark Short lay dying by a pool table and three other men had also been hit. A paramedic pronounced him dead just after midnight, the court heard.

Cregan, of no fixed address, Leon Atkinson, 35, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Livesey, from Hattersley, Gorman, from Glossop, Ryan Hadfield, 28, from Droylsden, and Matthew James, 33, from Clayton, are all accused of the murder of Mark Short and the attempted murders of three others also in the pub at the time - John Collins, Ryan Pridding and Michael Belcher.

Accused of the murder of David Short on August 10 last year are Cregan, Francis Dixon, 37, from Stalybridge, Anthony Wilkinson, 38, from Manchester, and Jermaine Ward, 24. All four are also jointly accused of the attempted murder of Sharon Hark on the same day, and a single charge of causing an explosion. Wilkinson is additionally charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and Mohammed Ali, 32, from Chadderton, Greater Manchester, is accused of assisting an offender.