A trial date has been set for a man accused of murdering teenager Ellen Higginbottom.
Mark Steven Buckley will stand trial on December 11 after being charged with the 18-year-old’s murder. The 51-year-old appeared via videolink from HMP Manchester for a brief hearing at Manchester Crown Court this morning (Thursday).
Ellen was reported missing by her family after failing to return home from college last Friday evening.
Her body was found near a wheat field close to Orrell Water Park in the early hours of last Saturday.
A post-mortem examination confirmed she died from multiple wounds to the neck.
Buckley, with a shaved head and goatee beard, spent most of the hearing sitting unmoving, wide-eyed, staring straight ahead.
The defendant, of New Hall Lane, Preston, did not enter a plea.
Judge Richard Mansell QC remanded him in custody until a further hearing on September 4.
David Steele, 47, of Oakley Avenue, Billinge, is charged with perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods. He did not enter a plea and was also remanded into custody to appear on the same day and at the same court as Buckley.
Dean Speakman and his partner Vicki Calland, both 30 and from Cob Moor Avenue, Billinge, both pleaded guilty, each to a single charge of perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods.
Both admitted they handled the mobile phone, laptop and other property belonging to Ellen and that they destroyed the property believing she had been murdered.
Judge Mansell remanded Speakman into custody until September 4. However, his partner, Calland, was granted bail as she is a mother-of-four and the “least culpable” the court heard.
Both will be sentenced at a later date.