Boy, 17, denies strangling teaching assistant to death

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
Lindsay Birbeck, left, and the cemetery she was found out. (PA Images/Google Maps)
Lindsay Birbeck, left, and the cemetery where she was found. (PA Images/Google Maps)

A teenager has denied strangling a teaching assistant to death as his murder trial got under way today.

The 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of killing 47-year-old mother of two Lindsay Birbeck.

Her body was found in Accrington Cemetery, Lancashire, in August 2019.

She went missing from her home in Huncoat, Accrington, on 12 August and her disappearance led to wide-ranging searches by hundreds of people from the community.

The court heard that the boy, who was 16 at the time of Lindsay’s death, moved her body in a blue wheelie bin and buried her in a shallow grave.

In a prepared statement, he admitted doing so but said he was not involved in her death and that a stranger promised him “a lot of money” to dispose of it.

Lindsay Birbeck with daughter Sarah. (PA Images)
Lindsay Birbeck with daughter Sarah. (PA Images)

“He showed me where the body was and he went away straightaway leaving me to ‘get rid of the body’,” the teenager 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.”

Prosecutor David McLachlan said at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday: “The young man... went to exceptional lengths to move her body and also did a very good job of hiding her body in a shallow grave in the cemetery.

“He did such a good job that the police or public, notwithstanding the efforts they went to, did not find her body until 12 days after she had gone missing.”

A postmortem showed Birbeck died due to compression of the neck.

Shortly after she was found, her children Stephen, 19, and Sarah, 16, paid tribute to “a great mum and wife, much-loved daughter, loving aunty and sister-in-law and a great friend too”.

They added: “It saddens us deeply that someone has cruelly taken our mum away from us and now she will never see us get married, have children and set up homes of our own, which she would have loved.

Lindsay Birbeck pictured with son Stephen. (PA Images)
Lindsay Birbeck pictured with son Stephen. (PA Images)

“Our mum was very loved by all that met her including all of the pupils that she has taught over the years.

“We have not only lost our mum but we’ve lost our best friend too.”

Kate Marney, headteacher at Ightenhill Primary School in Burnley, said Birbeck was “a highly valued and respected member of staff who was popular with both pupils and colleagues”.

She said: “We will miss her enormously at school. All our thoughts are with her family at this very sad time.”

The trial continues.