An Englishman who ambushed a teenage student as she walked home from college near Manchester and stabbed her to death has been jailed for life.
Mark Buckley, 52, was told on Thursday, September 14, he would have to spend at least 31 years in prison for the murder of Ellen Higginbottom, 18.
Ellen was left for dead in a field near Orrell Water Park in Wigan in June this year.
"This is a terrible case, he knows it. He knows he may well never see the light of day again," said Buckley's lawyer, Michael Hayton QC.
After killing Ellen, Buckley stole her laptop and mobile phone and sold the phone to a friend for £40 (US$53).
"It was as cowardly and callous as it was brutal. She would have had no idea the assault was coming. She simply didn't stand a chance," Judge Stockdale told Buckley, who showed no emotion as he was taking down to the cells.
Buckley admitted murder at a hearing last month and Neil Fryman, prosecuting, said the killing was sexually motivated and premeditated.
Ellen's family said the psychology student, who failed to return home after studying at Winstanley College on June 16, loved animals.
Buckley committed the murder after losing his job and being dumped by his girlfriend. He had been taking medication for depression and anxiety and claimed to have limited memory of what happened on the day.
Det Sup Howard Millington is reading a statement on behalf of Ellen Higginbottom's mum & dad — her killer has been jailed for life: pic.twitter.com/ffM4An7Swm— Key 103 News (@KEY103NEWS) 14 September 2017
Mr. Hayton says Buckley wanted to apologize to Ellen's family for the "horrific" murder.
"She made the world a better place with pretty much everything she said and everything she did," said Ellen's father Mike.
"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," he said.
"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," said Detective Superintendent Howard Millington.
"I am glad Buckley will now be spending many years behind bars to contemplate the young life that he has stolen away," he added.
We are deeply shocked and mourning the loss of a wonderful young woman, Ellen Higginbottom— Winstanley College (@winstanleycoll) 18 June 2017
Dean Speakman and Vicki Calland, who admitted buying items which had been stolen from Ellen, have pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and perverting the course of justice and will be sentenced later this year.