LANCASHIRE: A man has been jailed for a minimum of 31 years for the sexually motivated murder of a teenage student.
Mark Buckley, 52, attacked 18-year-old Ellen Higginbottom, before taking her laptop and mobile phone and then leaving her for dead near a wheat field close to Orrell Water Park in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
Miss Higginbottom was reported missing after failing to return home from Winstanley College in Orrell on June 16.
Her body was found the next day and a post-mortem examination showed she died from multiple wounds to the neck.
The A-level student, who aspired to be a vet, was targeted by Buckley as she walked alone in the park after earlier revising at the college. She was intending to return and meet up with friends who were sitting exams.
He said: “You Mark Buckley had entered the park intending, as I find, upon attacking and sexually assaulting a female.
“You were carrying a bag later seen to contain items for sexual activity, together with a length of rope and cord.
“You were carrying a knife.”
Slightly-built Miss Higginbottom, who did not know her attacker, was not able to physically offer much resistance, said the judge.
The Honorary Recorder of Manchester told the defendant: “Despite that, her wounds indicated that she tried albeit in vain to defend herself.
“As it was you subjected her to a savage and brutal attack. You inflicted many wounds in cutting her throat and killing her.
“It was as cowardly and callous as it was brutal.
“She would have had no idea it was coming. She would have been caught entirely off her guard.
“You were armed with a knife. She simply did not stand a chance.
“What must have been going through her mind is beyond imagining.”
Buckley later returned to the park and moved her body which he then intended to bury under the cover of darkness, the court heard.
But he was thwarted as a police helicopter with heat-seeking equipment hovered overhead and he made off.
Buckley was later arrested and admitted killing Miss Higginbottom but could offer no explanation for his actions.