The mother of one-eyed police killer Dale Cregan has been cleared by a jury of trying to get secret information from a police call handler during the manhunt for her son.
Anita Cregan, 56, looked close to tears as she was found not guilty of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office after a nine-day trial at Manchester Crown Court.
The jury took three hours to clear her and two co-accused, police call hander Kathryn Smith, 25, and her former boyfriend Sean Booth, 31.
Smith was accused of passing on information she had access to through her job to Booth, who gave the information to his neighbour Anita Cregan, the mother of his childhood friend.
At the time Dale Cregan was the prime suspect in a double killing and subject to a nationwide manhunt.
Smith, the daughter of a police inspector, wept and covered her face as the verdict was given.
Outside court Mrs Cregan said: “I thank the jury for coming to their decision and it should never have come to court anyway in the first place. I feel sorry for Kathryn and Sean, they were only here because they were linked to me and my name is Cregan.”
The prosecution alleged that Smith, a civilian call handler with Greater Manchester Police, allegedly used the police’s computer systems while on her shift at force HQ to check developments in the manhunt for Dale Cregan.
The jury was told she passed the information on to her then boyfriend Booth, who lived on the same street and grew up with Cregan, and who then passed details on to Cregan’s mother.
All three had denied a single count of misconduct in a public office between September 1 2011 and September 9 2012; Smith by allegedly looking for and disclosing confidential information and Booth and Cregan by allegedly aiding and abetting her to commit the offence.
At the time, Dale Cregan was wanted for the murders of father and son David and Mark Short and a £50,000 reward was put up for his arrest.
On one occasion, one of Cregan’s neighbours called police over a suspicious car, parked near their home on Sutton Drive, Droylsden, causing armed police to swoop on the Cregans’ house.
Smith, of Condor Drive, Droylsden, is alleged to have told Booth which neighbour called police – with the information passed on to Anita Cregan.
Anita Cregan, who ranted about a “grass on the street”, then interrogated the neighbour, claiming she had “inside information” about who made the call. But she denied ever asking Booth to get information from Smith.
Smith told the jury any information she discussed with Booth was just idle chit-chat while talking about work after her shift and she trusted Booth not to pass the information on to the Cregans.
Cregan was jailed for life without parole last year for four murders.