Teenager ‘murdered teacher and moved her body in wheelie bin before burying her’

A teenager murdered a teaching assistant and hid her body in a wheelie bin before burying it in a shallow grave, a court heard.

Linda Birkbeck, 47, was reported missing by her family on August 12 and her body was found 12 days later at Accrington Cemetery, jurors were told.

The 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admits moving and burying her body.

He denies murdering the mother-of-two instead telling police that he was offered "a lot of money" by an unknown man to "get rid of the body".

Opening the case for the prosecution, David McLachlan QC said the defendant '"went to exceptional lengths to move her body" and also carried out a '"dry run'" of the route from the Coppice to the cemetery the day before he moved her body in the wheelie bin.

The teenager is standing trial at Preston Crown Court where he denies a single charge of murder.

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Her body was found wrapped in to plastic bags, covered in loose vegetation and gloves found contained the defendant's DNA on the inside and Lindsay's on the outside.

Blood inside the blue wheelie bin had blood matching Lindsay's DNA and a large skip, which had been at the cemetery, had her Sketchers trainers in – they had been cut along the sole.

On a search of the defendants home, in Accrington, clothes were found that matched what he was wearing on CCTV clips from August 12, 16 and 17.

An iPhone box with a lock knife and soil, clear plastic bags and a roll plastic sheeting which was '"indistinguishable" were also found at Accrington Cemetery, said McLachlan.

Lindsay, who worked as a teaching assistant at Ightenhill School in Burnley, left her home on Burnley Road, Accrington, at around 4pm on August 12 in the direction of the town centre and was due home at 6pm.

She didn't return, which was out of character.

Worried, Lindsay's daughter contacted her dad and just after midnight he reported her missing

He told the operator: “My ex-wife seems to have gone missing and my daughter’s just got me up and been to her house and had a look and we can’t find her. It’s not like her”.

Mr McLachlan said the defendant was seen on CCTV walking up Burnley Road in Accrington at 2.27pm on August 12 and she was wearing a purple Rab jacket, Fitbit watch, Sketcher trainers, black leggings and a striped top.

At 6.19pm the defendant was seen on CCTV crossing over Burnley Road from the Whitakers Arms side with his hood up and he "appeared to have wet knees", the jury heard.

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Mr McLachlan said: "It is the Prosecution case that Lindsay Birbeck was dead by this stage and that [the defendant] had killed her."

The jury was told that the defendant, "who had mild learning difficulties", was later seen on CCTV with a black rucksack heading back to the Coppice area was seen pulling a wheelie bin on Burnley Road.

Mr McLachlan told the court the wheelie bin was spotted a couple of times before Lindsay's body was found.

On August 25, a forensic examination of the bin was carried done and it contained her blood and hair.

Dr Naomi Carter, Home Office pathologist, conducted a post-mortem examination on August 26 and found the cause of her death was 'neck injuries'.

CCTV of a man pulling a blue wheelie was released and the defendant, along with his family, handed himself in at Greenbank Police Station.

He was arrested on suspicion of Lindsay's murder and answered "no comment" in his interview and prepared a statement with his solicitor.

It said: "I did not murder Lindsay Birbeck. I was not involved in her death. I was not present at the time or place of her death.

"I did move a body from an area off Burnley Road Accrington in a wheelie bin.

"At first I hid the body but later moved it again in a wheelie bin, taking it to the cemetery on Burnley Road where I buried it on my own.

"A man came up to me when I was walking alone in that area off Burnley Road and he asked me to “get rid of a body” for him.

"He said that he would pay me a lot of money when everything was clear. He showed me where the body was and he went away straightaway leaving me to “get rid of the body”.

"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.

"I cannot describe the man other than to say he was white, male, spoke English.

"I could not see his face well as he was covering it with his hood. I am not sure of his height, build or age.

"Other than as above I do not wish to say anything further”.

Mr McLachlan said the defendant now accepts he was the person seen on the CCTV clips.

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Concluding the prosecution opening, he said: "Lindsay Birbeck went out for a walk by herself in the mid afternoon. It is likely that she was going to walk on The Coppice. She never made it back home.

"The reason why she never made it back home is because she had been killed on The Coppice.

"The prosecution case is that the killer was [the defendant]. He took steps to hide what he had done by taking a blue wheelie bin to the area of The Coppice on August 12.

"For some reason he decided to move the body to the cemetery across Burnley Road."

The trial continues.

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