BBC News

Lindsay Birbeck: Teenager guilty of murdering teaching assistant

Published
image copyrightFamily handout
image captionLindsay Birbeck was reported missing after failing to return home
A 17-year-old boy has been found guilty of murdering a teaching assistant whose body was found in a shallow grave.
Lindsay Birbeck, 47, went missing on 12 August 2019 while walking in a wooded area and was later found buried in Accrington Cemetery, Lancashire.
Preston Crown Court heard her attacker had been prowling the woods for lone females.
The boy admitted moving her body in a wheelie bin and claimed he buried her for a stranger who promised him money.
The verdict came a year to the day since Mrs Birbeck went missing.
Mrs Birbeck's 17-year-old daughter Sarah raised the alarm when her mother did not return from her afternoon walk to have tea at 18:00 BST.

'Implausible fiction'

The mother-of-two had left her home in Burnley Road, Accrington, to stroll in a nearby wooded area known as the Coppice.
Her attacker, who was 16 at the time, is thought to have killed Mrs Birbeck shortly after she entered the Coppice.
He attended a police station several days after her naked body was discovered wrapped in two plastic bags following a police CCTV appeal.
The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, denied murder and manslaughter.
But he admitted dragging a bin, with Mrs Birbeck inside, from the Coppice across Burnley Road to the cemetery where he buried her.
In court: Mike Stevens, BBC News
Police trawled through around 3,000 hours of CCTV footage and found a young man who was seen repeatedly pulling a blue wheelie bin in and around Huncoat.
A similar-looking bin was found in Accrington Cemetery some days earlier.
After sharing the footage in a public appeal, the 16-year-old boy arrived at a police station in Blackburn with his family.
Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said the injuries Mrs Birbeck sustained were the most severe of their kind which she had seen in her 25-year career.
He claimed a man had approached him with the promise of a large cash reward if he disposed of the body.
He stated: "I have not met this man before. I have not met him since, nor have I had any contact with him.
"He has not paid me any money. He told me that he would leave the money for me near where the body had been at first once everything was clear."
The prosecution said the defendant's account was "implausible fiction".
The court heard another woman said a lone male wearing a grey tracksuit with his hood up had followed her on her walk shortly before Mrs Birbeck entered the Coppice.
She said she feared for her safety and he was getting closer when she startled him by glancing back.

'Evil, cowardly behaviour'

A post-mortem examination concluded the cause of Mrs Birbeck's death was neck injuries. No evidence of a sexual assault could be found.
An attempt had also been made to cut off a leg, possibly with a saw.
Outside court, Mrs Birbeck's daughter said: "Our lives have been utterly destroyed by the evil, cowardly behaviour of the defendant and the horrific manner in which she was murdered.
"My mum went for a walk on a sunny afternoon in August and never came home, it's unthinkable that something as brutal as this could happen in our close community to someone that was loved so very dearly."
The teenager is due to be sentenced on Friday.
Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to northwest.newsonline@bbc.co.uk

Related Topics

  • Preston
  • Accrington

More on this story

  • Lindsay Birbeck: Teaching assistant 'may have known her killer'