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Give yourself up, suspect told

Police have vowed to track down a man wanted for the "sustained and vicious" murder of his ex-girlfriend.

And they warned anyone harbouring Michael Cope, who is also wanted over the rape of Linzi Ashton: "You will be prosecuted."

Mother-of-two Miss Ashton, 25, who had also told officers she had been a victim of domestic violence at Cope's hands, was found with head and facial injuries at her home in Winton, Salford, Greater Manchester, on Saturday. Cope, 28, has not been seen since.

Speaking to reporters outside Swinton police station, Superintendent Kevin Mulligan said: "If anyone is harbouring this individual they will be prosecuted. This is a serious offence and we need to track down this man. He does have a history of violent and aggressive behaviour and he does represent a risk to the community.

"The community, or members of the community, must know where he is and they need to pass on that information to us as soon as possible and that information will be treated in the strictest of confidence."

He continued: "We have got a team of detectives on this investigation that are working tirelessly to bring the offender to justice and there has been an increased police presence in the area."

The nature of the attack on Miss Ashton was "sustained and vicious", he said.

Cope has previous convictions for violent behaviour and has served time in custody, Mr Mulligan confirmed. Mr Mulligan said police had been seeking to arrest Cope since the end of April when Miss Ashton made her complaint of rape against him.

The focus of the manhunt remained in Salford with a large police presence in the Winton area.

"We believe he is in Salford, although he could be anywhere," he said, "but our inquiries at the moment suggest he is in Salford. He is a dangerous man and if anyone sees him out on the streets or anywhere else they need to ring 999. The bottom line here is that this is a really nasty, wicked crime and if anyone is harbouring him they have a moral duty to come forward and tell us where he is."

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