A ONE-EYED murder suspect hid out in Herne Bay the day before he is accused of killing two police officers, detectives believe.
Dale Cregan, 29, who has been charged with the murder of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester, is believed to have been in the town while cops hunted him 270 miles away in connection with two previous alleged murders.
He is reported to have taken a taxi from the Co-op in Mortimer Street to Birmingham airport last Monday afternoon.
Police believe from there he travelled to Manchester, where the two unarmed police officers were shot last Tuesday.
Terry Hawkins from Abacus Cars, the firm believed to have taken the £200 booking, said: "We take people to Gatwick, Manchester, all over the place."
He added: "I can't say anything, I'm not allowed to."
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman also refused to confirm the reports.
He said: "This forms part of an ongoing murder inquiry – we cannot comment on a live investigation."
But the news sent shockwaves through the town.
One staff member at the Co-op, who asked not to be named, said: "It's terrifying. We all read about it on Tuesday and to think he could have been here, in this shop, makes my blood run cold.
"I didn't see him and we've been told not to say anything, but it's the talk of the town."
A police officer who was on duty that day said: "All it would have taken is a call to a suspicious man and who knows what would have happened? It doesn't bear thinking about."
Police are believed to have also spoken to owners of B&Bs and bookmakers in the town in their hunt for clues.
They believe Cregan stayed in a holiday park in Wales before travelling to Herne Bay.
Cregan handed himself in on Tuesday last week, after the killings, and was also charged with two other murders, and four charges of attempted murder, thought to relate to a long-running feud in Manchester.