Ellen’s mur­derer may never be re­leased

18-YEAR-OLD STU­DENT WHO DREAMED OF BE­COM­ING A DOC­TOR WAS RAN­DOM VIC­TIM OF SEX­U­ALLY-MO­TI­VATED AT­TACK

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By AN­DREW BARDSLEY news­desk@men-news.co.uk @MENnews­desk

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’

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