A major review of the authorities’ work with Ellen Higginbottom’s murderer Mark Buckley following his previous release from jail has been launched.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed it was looking into the period between Buckley leaving prison after serving a sentence for arson and criminal damage and killing 18-year-old Winstanley College student Ellen.
The review is expected to cover risk management and assessment and the offender management system to see if mistakes were made or lessons could be learned.
Buckley was recently sentenced to a minimum of 31 years in jail for the cold-blooded murder which shocked the borough when it happened in June this year.
The MoJ is now looking once more at the entire period between him leaving custody for the previous offence, which involved him vandalising a neighbour’s car and setting fire to it, and the murder.
Since news of the killing broke local reports have circulated that Buckley was spending much of his time in the Billinge and Orrell areas where his mother lived rather than at the address in Preston where he had been relocated.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “This was an appalling crime and our thoughts are with the victim and her family. Serious further offences such as this are rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully.
“A full review into this case is under way. Public protection is our priority and we will carefully consider the findings in this case.”
The MoJ said it would be inappropriate to comment further as the review has already started.The probation authorities were criticised in a long but anonymous letter sent to the Observer in the wake of 52-year-old Buckley’s sentencing at Crown Square in Manchester.
The writer accused the probation service of failing to monitor Buckley’s residence at the New Hall Lane address and claimed he had been able to break the conditions of his release.
It was also alleged that budget cuts to front-line services had led to them becoming over-stretched.
At Buckley’s sentencing hearing the court was told that his record also included an incident of affray and criminal damage in 2016 at the Preston address.
After getting into an argument with a neighbour Buckley attacked the door of the other resident’s property with an axe.