The father of PC Fiona Bone has told how he owes a debt of gratitude for the outpouring of public support after she and another female officer were murdered during a routine call-out.
Fiona, 32, and her colleague PC Nicola Hughes were shot after a wanted killer made a false 999 call then ambushed them in a gun and grenade attack in 2012.
Fiona’s dad Paul Bone was devastated by the death of his adventurous, outgoing daughter who had loved her job on the frontline of the police service.
But he believes Fiona would have found it almost impossible to cope if she had survived and 23-year-old PC Hughes had died.
He said: “That day was routine but she was on the frontline and to her it was just a routine call to a broken window.
“It was just pure fluke that there were two of them attending, if they hadn’t been transporting a prisoner as a job previous to that one, there wouldn’t have been two of them doing it.
“It’s pure fluke that this horror story happened that way.
“In a way I wonder how badly she would have been affected if it had been somebody else.
“Or even if she had lived and Nicola had died. I think she would have preferred to have died than Nicola been dead and she was still alive.”
Mr Bone, a retired RAF aircraft engineer, shared cherished family photographs of his daughter as he spoke out to raise awareness of the charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS).
The charity was co-founded in 2003 by Christine Fulton MBE, the widow of murdered Strathclyde PC Lewis Fulton, and provides support to the loved ones of officers who die on duty. Mr Bone said: “I hadn’t heard of them before.
“To become a member of the charity you have to be bereaved, so somebody in your family who’s a member of the police service has to die. So it’s a club that nobody wants to join but everyone who joins is made welcome.
“If someone dies, normally it’s just the family left to carry on with it but when you have a death like a police death you’re surrounded by people who want to help you – and we want to help them. I want to pay back the general public for helping us at the funeral and all those police officers who came up to line the streets and the public who lined the streets. I just want to pay back because we owe them a lot for their support.”
The 71-year-old attends around six COPS events a year and has helped support the widow of PC Keith Palmer, the officer killed during the Westminster Bridge terror attack two years ago.
He has described as bittersweet the new friendships he has made through the police and the charity as he would never have met them if his daughter had not been murdered.
Fiona was born in England but when she was three months old the family moved to Duffus, Moray, after her dad was transferred to RAF Kinloss. They moved back south when she was 15 or 16 but by then she had forged an affinity for Scotland.
She would eventually be laid to rest in a peaceful cemetery in her mum June’s home town of Forres.
Her parents make the journey from their home near Leeds to the Highlands three or four times a year to visit her grave. The couple were immensely proud of Fiona’s five-year career with Greater Manchester Police, though she had originally dreamed of working in the film industry and had also considered following her dad into the RAF.
Mr Bone has since met police officers who work away from the frontline but knows in his heart Fiona would not have been happy in a safer role. Mr Bone said: “We only got to know the good bits of the job. She never told us anything that was dangerous, we would only get told funny bits. We were so proud of her.
“She liked doing odd things rather than routine. She hated routine. I had tried to persuade her to be a pilot but she worked out from what I was doing as an engineer that pilots’ lives were very routine and they never did anything out of the ordinary.
“She wanted something different to that and police life is very different. You never know what’s going to come round the corner.
“It was the perfect career choice for her. She really enjoyed it. One of the job choices she was considering was joining the air force and at the time the air force was camped out in Afghanistan.
“My thoughts were that the police was probably safer than Afghanistan or Iraq and you’d have less to worry about, but in retrospect that wasn’t really true.
“We just didn’t appreciate – and most people don’t – how dangerous police work can be.”
Fiona lived in Sale, Greater Manchester, with her long-term partner Clare Curran and Clare’s daughter Jessie. The couple had been looking forward to their civil partnership ceremony.
She was one of the more experienced officers on her shift at Hyde Police Station, where she thrived on being out on duty rather than behind a desk.
But on September 18, 2012, she and PC Hughes were murdered in what then-Prime Minister David Cameron described as a “despicable act… of pure evil.”
The two PCs, armed only with a Taser, were sent to a house in Mottram, Greater Manchester, following up what appeared to be a routine report of a concrete slab having been thrown through a window.
But it was a trap and fugitive gunman Dale Cregan, wanted for the murders of two men, was lying in wait.
As the officers approached, Cregan opened fire, shooting dead both women before throwing a fragmentation grenade.
He then handed himself in and in 2013 he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail.
At the time of their daughter’s death, Mr and Mrs Bone were living on the Isle of Man, though they have since moved to the mainland.
They were brought to Manchester by the police but were shielded from the immediate outcry over the murders.
Mr Bone said: “We were relatively isolated so we didn’t realise how much it had affected people until we went to the coroner’s court and we met some policemen who were more or less in tears about it.
“We went to the vigil which was a couple of days after Fiona’s death and the people of Hattersley lined up in the pouring rain.
“We go back to the annual memorial service at her police station and some of her fellow officers say the thing they miss most is her smile and her sunny disposition. It would be so nice to have her back.”