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Man charged in Linzi death probe

Police investigating the murder of mother-of-two Linzi Ashton have charged a man with assisting an offender.

Craig Blackburn, 25, of Ivy Street, Eccles, will appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court as the manhunt for Miss Ashton's ex-boyfriend continues.

Michael Cope, 28 is wanted for the "vicious" murder of the barmaid whose body was found at her home in Winton, Salford, on Saturday.

Blackburn was one of three men that Greater Manchester Police arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. A 26-year-old man is still being questioned while a 27-year-old man has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

On Tuesday, police released CCTV footage of Cope buying snacks hours before it is believed the young mother was murdered. A reward of £5,000 has been offered for anyone who might be able to help trace the fugitive.

Cope was in a brief "acrimonious" relationship with Miss Ashton, 25, who worked at the Duke of York pub in nearby Eccles.

A Home Office post-mortem concluded she died as a result of pressure to the neck and multiple injuries.

Police had been seeking to arrest Cope since the end of April when Miss Ashton made a complaint of rape against him.

Her body was discovered by a relative at her home in Westbourne Road shortly before 6pm on Saturday. Her two daughters, Daisy, two, and Destiny, seven, were not at the address at the time.

Police think Cope could still be in the Salford area and have warned the public not to approach him. Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 5092, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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