A LONE young man "looked out of place" in woodland where a teaching assistant was allegedly murdered, a jury has heard.

Mother-of-two Lindsay Birbeck, 47, from Huncoat, was last seen alive on the afternoon of August 12, heading towards The Coppice.

The Crown say a 17-year-old boy killed her shortly afterwards and moved her body in a wheelie bin to a nearby cemetery where her makeshift shallow grave was discovered 12 days later.

On Tuesday, Preston Crown Court heard that another walker, Zoe Braithwaite, entered The Coppice about 20 minutes before Mrs Birbeck.

She said she noticed a lone male figure on a parallel path before the paths eventually met and split.

Mrs Braithwaite said: "I had decided that whichever way he went I would take another route because, from the first time I saw him, I was wary of him. He looked out of place in the woods."

She said she slowed down because she did not want to be front of him and then cut across open moorland.

Mrs Braithwaite said she was then "surprised" to see the young male 50 yards away when she rejoined the main path and glanced back.

She said: "He pulled up as if he had been running. That's when I became concerned and I picked up my pace and went down the descent as quick as I could.

"I didn't look behind again. I just daren't. I never saw him again."

She said that, when she first saw him, she thought he was aged about 20 to 25, 6ft to 6ft 2in in height and of slim build.

Mrs Braithwaite said she did not get close enough to see his face but said he was wearing a grey hooded top, matching trousers and black trainers. She noted the hood was up throughout and his hands were in his pockets all the time.

The jury has previously heard that the defendant has admitted moving the wheelie bin and burying the body but said he was not present at the time or place of Mrs Birbeck's death.

Lancashire Telegraph:

In a prepared statement, he said he was walking alone in the area when he was approached by a stranger who promised him "a lot of money" if he disposed of a body.

He stated that he could not describe the man other than to say he was white and spoke English.

The youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies murder.