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Pensioner is cleared of harbouring killer

Dad and son found not guilty of hiding Cregan in their home

Above, PC Nicola Hughes, and below Fiona Bone, who were both shot dead by Cregan
Above, PC Nicola Hughes, and below Fiona Bone, who were both shot dead by Cregan

A home flay pensioner has been cleared of harbouring notorious one-eyed police killer Dale Crogan at his Chapel Street home. Jack Willbye and his son Sam, 29, were found not guilty of conspiracy to asist an uffender alongside three others during a re-trial at Manchester Crown Court last week.
The jury failed to reach a verdict at a trial earlier this year. It had been claimed Cregan was holed up in Willbye’s house in the town while police in the north of the country hunted him after he gunned down a rival, Mark Short. Crogan, 30, then went on to cause national outrage when he killed PCs Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, after luring them to a house in Manchester. It was alleged he had left Herne Bay by taxi the day before the killings, paying Abacus Cars £200 for the £190 fare to Birmingham. The prosecution claimed Cregan was on the run for two earlier murders when Jack Willbye allegedly gave him sanctuary in the Chapel Street house. Cregan had mowed down Short, 23, in Manchester in May 2012. He also tried to kill three other men in the same attack.
Three months later Cregan, with Anthony Wilkinson, 33, and Jermaine Ward, 24, murdered Mr Short’s father David, 46, in Manchester. It was claimed during the retrial that Cregan, Willcinson and Ward were then spirited out of the area by a gang of five men, including the Willbyes, and it was alleged that phone evidence linked Cregan, Wilkinson and Ward to the Wilbyes, Patricia Kelly, 55, Raj Khan, 44 and Marvin Herbert, 42.

The court heard labourer Sam Willbye owed Herbert a “significant personal debt” and was therefore recruited to assist the murderers in laying low at his father’s Herne Bay home. Ward remained at large until August 2012, while Wilkinson was caught in September. Cregan later handed himself in to police and was given a whole life sentence for the murders of Mark and David Short, PC Bone and PC Hughes, and three attempted murders.

Dale Cregan

Wilbye’s Herne Bay house had been raided by police three months before Cregan was convicted of all four murders. Forensics officers were seen entering and leaving the property over a three-day period with search dogs. Jack and Sam Willbye, Kelly, from Droylsden near Manchester, Khan from Bradford and Marvin Herbert, from Estepona, Spain, were all cleared of conspiracy to assist an offender.

Herne Bay Gazette, December 11th 2014

The house in Chapel Street, Herne Bay, known as Groom Cottage, where police believed the owner was hiding killer Dale Cregan,while he was on the run