Man told police he accidentally killed woman, court hears

A man accused of murdering a woman and burying her in a makeshift grave told police he accidentally killed her when throwing an axe at a tree, a court has heard.

Andrew Burfield, 51, is accused of murdering 33-year-old Katie Kenyon on April 22 and burying her body in a grave, which he had dug the day before her death, in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire.

On Monday, a trial at Preston Crown Court heard he had sent messages from her phone to her children and to himself after her death.

David McLachlan KC, prosecuting, told the jury Burfield was arrested following Miss Kenyon’s disappearance and interviewed four times, initially denying any knowledge of her whereabouts.

In his penultimate interview there was a “revelation” and his version of events changed, Mr McLachlan said.

Burfield, of Todmorden Road, Burnley, told police he had taken Miss Kenyon, who he had been in a relationship with since 2019, to Gisburn Forest for a picnic and she had “bet” him he could not hit her can of Coke with his axe.

The court heard he told police: “I went for the tree at the side of her and it, it hit her in head.”

He claimed she had been hit with the back of the axe and she had no other injuries, but the jury heard a post mortem showed she was struck an estimated 12 times.

Mr McLachlan said: “We now understand Mr Burfield will admit to causing all 12 injuries Katie Kenyon sustained.”

Katie Kenyon (Family/PA)
Katie Kenyon (Family/PA)

Burfield told police he then dug a hole and buried her, the jury was told.

Mr McLachlan said Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Jamie Robinson found due to the nature of the injuries, Burfield’s account of accidentally hitting Miss Kenyon with the axe was “completely implausible”.

The court heard the day before Miss Kenyon’s death Burfield borrowed a set of ladders and spade from his father and drove to Gisburn Forest.

Mr McLachlan said: “It’s the prosecution case that Andrew Burfield had been out on that night on an important mission and that was in order to dig a grave and it was to dig Katie Kenyon’s grave.

“He was in the area where her body would later be recovered for just under one hour.”

On the morning of her death, the court heard Miss Kenyon messaged Burfield saying: “Ready and excited for a new chapter.”

Mr McLachlan said CCTV showed her travelling in Burfield’s Ford Transit van on the morning of April 22 and stopping off at McDonald’s on their way to Gisburn Forest.

The prosecution alleges Burfield spent just over 42 minutes in the forest, where he killed her and buried her body.

Cell site analysis showed Miss Kenyon’s phone travelling back from the forest from 11.15am.

Mr McLachlan said: “The prosecution case being on this occasion the phone may have been in Andrew Burfield’s van but Katie Kenyon certainly was not.

“Katie Kenyon, the prosecution say, at this stage, was in a carefully constructed grave that had been dug the night before by Andrew Burfield.”

The court heard Miss Kenyon’s daughter sent her a message at 12.18pm that day and received a response of two laughing face emojis.

Mr McLachlan said: “The prosecution say Katie Kenyon by this stage was dead.

“That message was not sent by her but it was part of a charade and was sent by Andrew Burfield.”

Messages were later sent from Miss Kenyon’s phone to Burfield, saying she was “truly sorry for everything”, and to her children, with a message to her daughter saying her father would be looking after her.

The court heard voicenotes Burfield left for Miss Kenyon in which he said he was “a bit worried” about her.

Her body was recovered a week after her death.

Burfield denies murder.