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Murder suspect told 'give yourself up'

Michael Cope is wanted for the murder of Linzi Ashton Photo: Greater Manchester Police

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

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, 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."

Police say Linzi Ashton was killed in a 'sustained and vicious' attack Credit: Greater Manchester Police

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."Miss Ashton and Cope were seen out together in public in Salford on Friday night - the evening before her body was discovered.They were thought to have visited at least one local address but police are keen to piece together their full movements on the night.He said that the force's handling of Miss Ashton's case had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).But he said that Miss Ashton's complaints were taken seriously and that a proper assessment would take place.The matter will be looked at by Greater Manchester Police's Professional Standards Division and will be the subject of an independent domestic homicide review which will involve several agencies.But now was the time to concentrate on finding and arresting Cope, he added

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