A man who killed 18-year-old Ellen Higginbottom in broad daylight has been sentenced to at least 31 years in prison for her “brutal” murder.
Mark Buckley, 52, “callously” attacked the teenager while she was taking a walk in Wigan’s Orrell Water Park on June 16.
According to the Press Association, Buckley left her for dead in a nearby wheat field, taking the A Level student’s laptop and mobile phone with him.
Her disappearance was quickly reported by her worried family, who called her failure to return from college “extremely out of character”.
However, her body was discovered by police officers at around 2.30am the next day.
A post-mortem examination revealed she had died from multiple wounds to the neck.
Today, Buckley was sentenced to life imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court after pleading to Higginbottom’s murder at an earlier hearing.
During the sentencing, Judge David Stockdale QC called the facts of the case “frankly chilling”.
“You, Mark Buckley, had entered the park intending, as I find, upon attacking and sexually assaulting a female,” Stockdale said.
“You were carrying a bag later seen to contain items for sexual activity, together with a length of rope and cord.” He was also carrying a knife, the judge added.
Reacting to today’s sentencing, Higginbottom’s father Mike said that nothing “even remotely approaching justice” could be achieved for his daughter’s murder, but that her family and friends were “tremendously lucky to have shared 18 years with her”.
“She made the world a better place with pretty much everything she said and everything she did,” he said in a statement.
“We all would have liked more though, and we would especially have liked for her to have had more. For her to have seen the results of all her hard work, for her to have seen her friends fly the nest as they went all to uni, for her to have explored the world that she was just growing into.
“To have all that taken away from her in such a pointless and idiotic fashion fills us with an anger and resentment that does not represent who we want to be. But we wrestle it under control and learn to be better at being people. Because that’s what adults do.
“So if there’s anyone else out there thinking of doing anything even half this stupid, just take one piece of advice. Grow up.”
Greater Manchester Police Detective Superintendent Howard Millington added: “My thoughts will always be with Ellen’s family and friends, this was an absolutely devastating murder by a stranger of an innocent young girl with her whole life ahead of her.
“Buckley callously killed Ellen in broad daylight. He attacked her in the most brutal way as she was walking around Orrell Water Park before going to meet her friends who were taking their exams,” he said.
“I am glad Buckley will now be spending many years behind bars to contemplate the young life that he has stolen away, but I wish that we hadn’t even had to investigate this crime.”