Manchester

Ellen Higginbottom death: Preston man admits 'sexually motivated' murder

Ellen Higginbottom Image copyright GMP
Image caption Student Ellen Higginbottom was found dead at a Wigan beauty spot in June

A man has admitted the "sexually motivated murder" of a college student whose body was found at a beauty spot.

Mark Buckley, 51, attacked 18-year-old Ellen Higginbottom and left her for dead at Orrell Water Park in Wigan, Greater Manchester.

Buckley, of New Hall Lane, Preston, admitted the charge at a hearing at Manchester Crown Court earlier.

Ellen was reported missing on 16 June after failing to return home from Winstanley College.

Her body was found the next day. A post-mortem examination confirmed she died from multiple wounds to the neck.

The facts of the case were not given in court. Further details will be revealed when Buckley is sentenced next week.

But Neil Fryman, prosecuting, told the court: "There was a sexual motivation for this offence and also it was pre-meditated."

The court heard Buckley attacked the teenager then took her laptop and mobile phone.

Image copyright Ian Greig/Geograph
Image caption Ellen's body was found at Orrell Water Park on 17 June

Two other defendants, Dean Speakman and his partner Vicki Calland, both 30 and from Cobmoor Avenue, Billinge, Wigan, pleaded guilty last month to a single charge of perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.

Both admitted handling Ellen's mobile phone, laptop and other property belonging to her and destroying it believing she had been murdered.

David Steele, 47, of Oakley Avenue, Billinge, appeared alongside Buckley in the dock charged with perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.

He was not asked to enter a plea following an application by his lawyer and will next appear in court on 6 October.

Image copyright Ellen Higginbottom/Facebook
Image caption Ellen was a psychology student at Winstanley College

After her murder, Ellen's family paid tribute to the teenage psychology student, who loved animals and enjoyed cooking.

In a statement, they said Ellen had left a legacy of "beauty and love and kindness."

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