Fugitive Michael Cope charged with murder of ex-girlfriend Linzi Ashton


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The Independent Online

A wanted man who handed himself in after nearly a month on the run has been charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend.

Michael Cope, 28, was arrested on Friday night after police were called to an address in Leigh, Greater Manchester.

Mother-of-two Linzi Ashton, 25, was discovered with multiple injuries at her home in Winton, Salford, on June 29.

Miss Ashton made separate complaints to Greater Manchester Police in April and May about Cope’s behaviour.

Cope, of no fixed address, is also charged with separate offences of rape and assault, said Greater Manchester Police.

A police spokeswoman said: "Michael Cope, of no fixed abode, has been charged with murder, section 47 assault and rape.

"He is due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court tomorrow."

Following what was described as an "intense manhunt", Cope was apprehended at a house in Larch Road, Leigh, by armed officers after they acted on intelligence.

Miss Ashton's body was discovered at her home in Westbourne Road.

Senior detectives described her injuries, which included pressure to the neck, as "sustained and vicious".

Her two daughters, Daisy, aged two, and Destiny, seven, were not at the address at the time.

In a statement issued shortly after Miss Ashton's death, her family said: "She was the most beautiful, generous, caring person anyone could ever wish to meet. She would never harm anyone and was always there for her children and family.

"Life will never be the same again without her. Our whole family and friends have been devastated by her death. The whole community is in shock."

Police have previously charged a 26-year-old man with perverting the course of justice and a 25-year-old man with assisting an offender.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the prior contact made by Miss Ashton to Greater Manchester Police.