Ellen Higginbottom murder probe quartet in the dock

Ellen Higginbottom
Ellen Higginbottom

Four people have appeared in court in connection with the murder of Wigan student Ellen Higginbottom.

Mark Steven Buckley, 51, of New Hall Lane, Preston, was in the dock at Wigan And Leigh Magistrates’ Court this morning charged with murder.

David Steele, 47, of Oakley Avenue in Billinge, along with Dean Speakman, 30, and Vicki Calland, 30, both of Cob Moor Avenue in Billinge, were charged with handling stolen goods and perverting the course of justice.

Magistrates decided to send the cases of all four defendants to Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square), where they will appear tomorrow.

They were all remanded in custody until tomorrow’s hearing.

Buckley did not enter a plea to the charge of murder during the brief hearing at the Darlington Street court.

He appeared in the dock dressed in a grey jumper flanked by a prison service official.

He was only in court for a few minutes, during which he spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

The courtroom, which was packed with media, heard prosecutor Ann Deakin tell magistrates the body of 18-year-old Ellen was found near a wheat field close to Orrell Water Park at around 2.18am on Saturday, June 17.

The cause of death was multiple wounds to her neck, Ms Deakin told the court.

Defending Graham Whitingham did not ask for bail to be granted.

Steele was represented in court by Bill Pearson, while Katherine Lloyd appeared for Calland and Sara Smith spoke on behalf of Speakman.

The three sat with their heads bowed during much of the proceedings, while Calland openly sobbed at several points.

Speakman and Calland are charged with intent to pervert the course of justice by destroying property belonging to a murder victim and with dishonestly undertaking or assisting in the retention, removal, disposal or realisation of stolen goods, namely a mobile phone and laptop belonging to Ellen.

Steele has also been charged with perverting the course of justice but he is also charged with handling stolen goods, which are named as not only Ellen’s laptop, but also her doorkeys.