LONDON – A 29-year-old man accused of murdering two unarmed British police officers in a gun and grenade attack dramatically changed his plea to guilty Tuesday, midway through his trial.
Dale Cregan had denied killing Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, but on Tuesday admitted the murders, replying "guilty" as a court clerk read out the charges.
The two officers were killed as they responded to a burglary call near Manchester, northwest England, in September.
Prosecutors said Cregan — who had made the false emergency call — waited for police to arrive, then opened fire with a Glock pistol.
He fired 24 shots at Bone, hitting her between five and eight times. Hughes was shot eight times, including three times in the head as she lay on the ground.
As he fled, Cregan lobbed a military fragmentation grenade into the yard of the house where the police officers lay, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say that Cregan, who already was being sought for two other killings, surrendered to police shortly after the incident, saying: "I'm wanted by the police, and I've just done two coppers."
He later told an officer he had killed the police because "you were hounding my family."
The case provoked shock and outrage in Britain, where firearms are tightly controlled and few police officers carry deadly weapons.
Cregan continues to deny murdering father and son David and Mark Short, who were killed in separate incidents last year. Prosecutors say those killings stemmed from a feud between two Manchester crime families.