A 16-year-old boy murdered a teaching assistant as she walked in woods behind her home and moved her body in a wheelie bin to a cemetery, a jury heard.
Mother-of-two Lindsay Birbeck, 47, from Accrington, Lancashire, was last seen alive on the afternoon of August 12 heading towards the area known locally as The Coppice, where the prosecution say she was killed a short time later.
Her concerned family raised the alarm when the keep-fit enthusiast did not return home that evening and police launched a search operation, initially focused on The Coppice.
Many members of the local community also went looking for Mrs Birbeck but she was not discovered until August 24 in a wooded area at Accrington Cemetery where her naked body was wrapped in two clear plastic bags.
A 16-year-old boy strangled mother-of-two Lindsay Birbeck and dragged her body through the streets in a wheelie bin before burying her in a cemetery, a court has heard
Opening the case on Wednesday at Preston Crown Court, David McLachlan QC said: ‘There are two important people in his case – Lindsay Birbeck who sadly is dead and the defendant in the dock who the prosecution say is the killer.
‘The young man who 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.’
The prosecutor said the defendant, now aged 17, pulled a blue wheelie bin along Burnley Road towards The Coppice, more than four hours after Mrs Birbeck went missing, and used it to conceal her body.
Five days later the youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, retrieved the bin from The Coppice and hauled it back across Burnley Road to the cemetery, the court heard.
On the early evening of August 24 a dog walker rang police after he said he spotted a plastic cover and what appeared to be a leg in woodland at the cemetery.
Teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck, 47, was found dead at Accrington Cemetery on the outskirts of the Lancashire town in August last year
Mrs Birbeck was identified through dental records and a post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was neck injuries.
Severe compressive force appeared to have been used, according to a Home Office pathologist, which could have been done in several ways including through stamping or kicking – or kneeling on the front of the neck.
On August 27 a CCTV still of a male pulling a blue wheelie bin along Burnley Road was issued to the media and later that day the defendant attended a police station with family members.