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Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Mark Buckley sentenced to life in prison for murder of Ellen Higginbottom


A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an 18-year-old woman as she made her way through a local beauty spot.

Mark Buckley attacked Ellen Higginbottom by stabbing her a number of times as she walked from Winstanley College through Orrell Water Park, in Greater Manchester, on the afternoon of 16 June 2017. He pleaded guilty to her murder at an earlier hearing.

Ellen was reported missing by her family that evening when she did not return home from college at the usual time. Her body was discovered by police in the early hours of the following day. Mark Buckley had returned to the scene at night to conceal Ellen's body but was disturbed by a police helicopter involved in the search to find her.

At Manchester Crown Court today (14 September) Buckley was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 31 years.

Following the sentencing hearing, David Graham from the CPS said: “This was a brutal murder which shocked the local community and which obviously has had a devastating impact on Ellen's family and friends.

"Mark Buckley went out that day equipped with a knife to carry out a violent assault. It was the prosecution case that the murder was sexually motivated. Even though it would appear his selection of Ellen as his victim was random, his decision to attack and murder a woman was premeditated. He spent a number of hours that morning looking for a lone female to attack. Ellen happened to be walking through the park at the time he chose to do so, with such tragic consequences for her.

"I hope today's sentence brings some sense of justice for Ellen's family and her many friends. Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with them at this very difficult time. We would like in particular like to acknowledge the strength and resilience shown throughout by Ellen’s parents, Michael and Kay, and Ellen’s partner Ryan."


Notes to Editors

  1. Mark Buckley was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 31 years minus time spent in custody on remand - therefore minimum term of 30 years and 280 days

  2. David Graham is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in CPS North West

  3. For the latest in breaking news from the CPS Press Office follow @cpsuk on Twitter and visit our official News Brief -

  4. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906. Out of Hours - 07590 617233