A MAN who aspired to be like cop killer Dale Cregan has been convicted of the attempted murder of a Dumbarton police officer.

Craig Brown was found guilty of attacking Sergeant Brian Simpson with a machete, leaving him fearing for his life.

But the Post can reveal that Brown pleaded guilty in 2016 to threatening cops in Clydebank and praised Cregan – who murdered two police officers in 2012 after luring them to his Greater Manchester home with a hoax call – as “a legend”.

Yet Brown was free to roam the community to take those threats further last September in the town’s Ashton View, when he drew the machete from his trouser leg and went after the police sergeant.

Brown was convicted on Friday at the High Court in Glasgow after a jury heard how Sgt Simpson had never before felt as threatened in the course of his 19-year police career.

The 44-year-old, who had responded to a call of someone acting suspiciously in the street, told the court Brown initially asked: “Are you an armed response unit?”

When Sgt Simpson said no, Brown stated: “Well, you better get one.”

Read more: Knifeman who spat on police and praised notorious cop killer to face jail

Brown drew a long machete from his right trouser leg and immediately held it out in an aggressive manner.

Sgt Simpson tried his incapacitant spray to fend off Brown, who was “waving” the weapon.

He told the sergeant: “You better hope armed police are on their way.” The officer recalled: “He ran at me with the sword...I ran behind a vehicle to create a barrier.

“I saw him wave the sword just missing my back. By that time, it was only a couple of feet away.”

Sgt Simpson used his spray with no success. He then called for back up.

He told the jury: “I was scared. I was there by myself in front of someone telling me to get firearms officers.”

The man was allegedly then “chopping down” on the car Sgt Simpson retreated behind and smashed a window.

But, he suddenly fled when backup officers arrived. Sgt Simpson told the court: “I have never been threatened with a weapon like this in my service.

“He was trying to stab me with it, attack me. I felt shocked that someone could be walking the streets like that.

“There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ afterwards, like what if I had not reacted as quickly as I did do.

“He could have killed me.”

Sgt Simpson declined to take time off work after the incident. After being found guilty of attempted murder, the judge, Lord Clark, told Brown: “You came at him with a machete, swung at him and came close to striking him.

“This type of assault is atrocious. When it is carried out on a police officer carrying out his duty, it is utterly contemptible.”

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In July 2016, Brown was standing outside his then home in Brunswick House, Clydebank, when police arrived to reports of someone with a knife.

When officers arrested him and took him to Clydebank police office, Brown began to shout and swear.

He declared: “Dale Cregan is a legend. I will do to you what he did.”

Brown repeatedly said he wanted to be just like Cregan, and also shouted homophobic abuse.

When he was being taken to court the next day, he spat in the face of another officer.

Cregan is currently serving a whole-life prison sentence after killing PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in 2012 by shooting both officers multiple times and throwing a hand grenade at them.

One-eyed Cregan, who also killed a father and his son in the Greater Manchester area just months before murdering the two police officers, later turned himself in at a police station boasting of the killings.

Brown did not give evidence during the trial, but had denied attempted murder.

He will be sentenced next month.

Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation both declined to comment on the conviction or threats to officers.