A murder retrial into the death of Lindsay Birbeck, whose body was found in Accrington Cemetery in August last year, was expected to commence at Preston Crown Court today.

However, due to the coronavirus crisis and difficulties with social distancing making it impossible to seat a jury in the courtroom, the trial has been adjourned until Monday August 3, almost a year to the day that Mrs Birbeck went missing. 

Addressing the defendant, who appeared via videolink from HMP Wetherby, and spoke only to confirm his name, Her Honour Amanda Justice Yip said: "The trial was due to start today but because of what's happened with coronavirus that hasn't been possible.

"But we are looking to find a new date as soon as possible for the trial.

"We are extremely limited in terms of space so long as the two metre social distancing rule remains in place, but things may well change between now and the next couple of months.

"Any date that is fixed is to be fixed with every intention that that will be the trial date and I recognise that we are in extremely challenging times but anything may happen between now and then." 

Mrs Justice Yip agreed that the re-trial would commence on August 3. 

The original trial into Mrs Birbeck's murder began in February, but following almost two weeks of proceedings at Preston Crown Court, on March 10, Mrs Justice Yip agreed to a re-trial after an application to discharge the jury was made.

Mrs Birbeck, a mother-of-two from Huncoat, went missing on August 12 last year.

Her body was found in Accrington Cemetery on August 24, 12 days after she disappeared.

Police launched a missing persons appeal and extensive searches of the areas close to Burnley Road, where Mrs Birbeck lived, were carried out by officers and members of the local community. 

On August 27, a 16-year-old boy was arrested in connection with Mrs Birbeck’s disappearance and on August 31, detectives charged the teenager with her murder.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now 17-years-old and denies killing the 47-year-old mother-of-two from Huncoat.

He was sent to trial at Preston Crown Court, and on Tuesday February 25, proceedings began, with a jury of 11 women and one man sworn in.

The case for the prosecution was opened on Wednesday February 26, with David McLachlan QC presenting the jury with agreed facts and an opening statement.

Several witnesses were called and evidence - including CCTV footage, statements, and pathological findings - subsequently shown to the jury, with the prosecution outlining their case right up until Thursday March 5.

It was expected that Mark Fenhalls QC would open the case for the defence on Monday March 9, but the jury were sent home and the court lay in chambers for most of the day, with counsel discussing legal matters and directions.

On March 10, the court heard the jury would be discharged with immediate effect, and a re-trial with a new jury was to be arranged for the summer.

Both Mrs Birbeck's family and the defendant's family were informed of the reasons for the discharge of the jury.

At the time, Mrs Justice Yip said: "For legal reasons it is not possible to continue with this trial.

"My decision to discharge the jury is never one that will be taken lightly.

"The new trial will be fixed at the earliest date possible."

The teenager accused of Mrs Birbeck's murder has remained in custody.

Reporting restrictions were put in place surrounding the jury's discharge and for legal reasons, these cannot be published.

The re-trial, beginning on August 3, is expected to last for two weeks.