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


A man has been sentenced to life, with a minimum of 31 years imprisonment, at Manchester Crown Court today (14 September) for the murder of an 18-year-old as she made her way through a local beauty spot.

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

Ellen was reported missing by her family that evening after they became concerned 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 Water Park at night to conceal Ellen's body but was disturbed by a police helicopter involved in the search to find her.

Following the sentencing hearing, David Graham from the CPS said: "Mark Buckley has been sentenced to life imprisonment today for the brutal murder of Ellen Higginbottom.  This was a terrible crime which shocked the local community and 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 it was a sexually-motivated and premeditated murder, and that he spent a number of hours that morning looking for a lone female to attack.  We believe he selected his victim at random, and Ellen Higginbottom was simply walking through the park at the time he chose to attack, with tragic consequences.

"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:

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.

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