Ellen’s murderer may never be released
18-YEAR-OLD STUDENT WHO DREAMED OF BECOMING A DOCTOR WAS RANDOM VICTIM OF SEXUALLY-MOTIVATED ATTACK
A TWISTED prowler who murdered an A-level student in a sexually-motivated attack has been jailed for a minimum of 31 years.
Ellen Higginbottom was a popular and intelligent 18-yearold from Worsley, Salford, who dreamed of being a doctor.
She was targeted at random by a stranger who pounced while she walked through Orrell Water Park in June this year hours after she was reported missing.
Her killer Mark Buckley, 52, will now likely die in prison as a judge warned ‘he may never see the light of day again.’
Ellen, a well-respected pupil at Winstanley College, was reported missing after she didn’t return home on June 16. Her body was discovered the next day.
A post mortem examination found Ellen died after suffering multiple neck wounds.
The court heard how Buckley had previously been approaching other lone women in the park on the day of the incident. He pounced on Ellen, dragged her further into the park and subjected her to a sustained attack during which the teenager was strangled and stabbed. Returning to his home in Preston with Ellen’s laptop and mobile phone, he later tried to burn his clothes and bury Ellen’s body but was disturbed by the police helicopter flying overhead. Michael Hayton QC, for Buckley, said his client had been ‘hard working’ and in long-term relationships but that he received a ‘double blow’ of losing his job and his relationship and had taken medication for anxiety and depression. Mr Hayton says Buckley had ‘limited memory’ of the events surrounding the murder but wished to apologise to Ellen’s family and friends for committing the ‘horrific’ murder. Buckley had brought back Ellen’s possessions to his mother’s house and showed them to Dean Speakman and Vicki Calland, and sold her mobile phone for £40. The couple, both 30, from
Judge David Stockdale
Billinge Higher End, have pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and perverting the course of justice and will be sentenced at a later date.
In his sentencing, Judge David Stockdale QC told Buckley how slightly-built Ellen had little chance of defending herself against the ‘cowardly’ and ‘premeditated’ attack.
He said: “She would have had no idea the assault was coming.
“She simply didn’t stand a chance.”
Addressing the court, he added: “This is a terrible case, he knows it. He knows he may well never see the light of day again.”
Flanked by two guards, Buckley, of New Hall Lane, Preston, showed no reaction as the judge handed down the sentence.
The judge ruled Buckley could only ever be released from his life sentence after serving a minimum 31 years and, only then, if a parole board deemed it safe. He added in the decades to follow, he will have many long years to contemplate his actions - and reflect on the young life he took.
She would have had no idea the assault was coming. She simply didn’t stand a chance
Mark Buckley ‘may never see light of day again’