Ellen’s funeral to take place

Ellen Higginbottom
Ellen Higginbottom

The funeral of murdered Wigan student Ellen Higginbottom will take place later this week.

More than a month since the 18-year-old’s body was found at Orrell Water Park, the area coroner has finally allowed its release following a second post-mortem examination.

And her grieving family say that anyone who knew Ellen is welcome to come and say farewell at a service at Altrincham Crematorium at noon on Thursday.

The youngster went missing on her way home from Winstanley College on Friday June 16 and, after family raised the alarm, a full-scale police search was launched.

Officers made the girm discovery of her remains in bushes near a wheat field adjoining the park during the small hours of the following morning.

An initial autopsy concluded that she died from severe neck injuries.

A Preston man - 51-year-old Mark Buckley - was later arrested on suspicion of Ellen’s murder and has been remanded in custody pending an appearance at Manchester Crown Court on September 4. He has yet to enter a plea.

Dean Speakman and his partner Vicki Calland, both 30, and from Cob Moor Avenue, Billinge, have already pleaded guilty to a single charge of perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods in relation to the inquiry.

Both admitted they handled a mobile phone, laptop and other property belonging to Ellen and that they destroyed the property believing she had been murdered.

They will both be sentenced at a later date.

David Steele, 47, of Oakley Avenue, Billinge, has been charged with perverting the course of justice and handling stolen goods. He has yet to enter a plea is remanded in custody to appear alongside Buckley.

An inquest into Ellen’s death was opened at Bolton Coroner’s Court earlier this month, and then adjourned pending the conclusion of criminal proceedings.

During the brief hearing it was heard that Ellen, who lived in Boothstown near Leigh, was formally identified by her uncle Philip Higginbottom.

A brief statement released by the police on Ellen’s family behalf read today: “All that knew Ellen are welcome to the funeral service.

“The family have asked that instead of flowers and donations that people take a moment and to plant a tree, bush or flowers in remembrance of Ellen.

“The family will not be offended if donations/flowers are given.

“Donations via John R Tollitt Funeral Director. Seren House Atkinson Road Urmston Manchester M41 9AD.”

Altrincham Crematorium is on Whitehouse Lane, Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 5RH.