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The murder trial into the death of Ellia Arathoon was due to begin today – but at the eleventh hour Craig Andrew Procter pleaded guilty.

Procter, a 40-year-old man from Ellesmere Port, was due to stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court after being charged with the murder in 2016. At a hearing in December of last year, he pleaded not guilty. Ellia, from Ellesmere Port, was last seen alive on Friday, October 28, 2016.

Days after she went missing, police revealed the search had turned into a murder investigation. Police later said officers involved in the search for Ellia had discovered what were believed to be human remains close to the M53.

Judge praises dignity of friends and family

Judge Goldstone says: “I would like to take this opportunity to commend the way in which the friends and family of the deceased have conducted themselves this afternoon, and have taken on board the way in which the crown propose to deal with the matter.

“It is not underestimated or taken for granted by the court.

“I would encourage them to maintain the same dignity when the matter proceeds tomorrow.”

That concludes today’s proceedings.

Proctor will be sentenced at 10.30am on Tuesday.

Proctor to be sentenced tomorrow at 10.30am

At some point on October 31 he says, the defendant returned to Butterfly Woods and moved the heavily charred body of Ellia Arathoon to a more secluded spot, where he tried to cover it up with foliage and a piece of old carpet.

The court is told Proctor has previous convictions for domestic violence.

Mr Pratt says that it will be a small comfort to Ellia’s friends and family that they will not now have to sit through a trial.

Proctor will be sentenced tomorrow at 10.30am.

Proctor put her in a suitcase and set fire to it

Proctor then put her in a suitcase, first of all carrying it along the highway to a canal towpath.

Then he took it off the towpath to a secluded wooded area known as Butterfly Woods.

Mr Pratt says he set fire to the suitcase and the flames burned for around six hours.

He says it is likely the fire was set in the early hours of October 30.

Proctor changes plea to GUILTY

Proctor has changed his plea and has pleaded GUILTY to the murder of Ellia Arathoon on or around October 29, 2016.

Procter maintains that there was no sexual motivation and any sexual activity between him and the victim was consensual at all times.

Richard Pratt, prosecuting, tells the court Proctor killed Ellia Arathoon in his house by the use of a heavy glass object.

Case called on

The friends and family of Ellia Arathoon are brought into court and take their seats.

Craig Proctor is in the dock, wearing a light grey sweatshirt.

The judge in the case is the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone QC.

Proctor is asked to confirm his name and the charge is read to him.

Murder trial starts today

A man will go on trial today accused of the murder of Ellesmere Port mum Ellia Arathoon.

Craig Andrew Proctor, 40, from Ellesmere Port, will stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court after being charged with her murder last year.

Ellia was last seen alive on Friday, October 28, 2016.

Days after she went missing, police revealed the search had turned into a murder investigation. Police later said officers involved in the search for Ellia had discovered what were believed to be human remains close to the M53.

Ellia’s funeral took place on December 19 and mourners were reminded of her “beautiful smile”.

The trial was originally due to take place at Chester Crown Court in July.

However, it is understood that the court did not have the capacity to accommodate such a lengthy trial, so it was re-located to Liverpool.

The trial is expected to last for six weeks.