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

Due to the coronavirus crisis and social distancing difficulties making it impossible to seat a jury, full counsel, the public and the press in one courtroom, the trial was adjourned from its original set date of June 15 to a new date of August 3, almost a year to the day that Mrs Birbeck went missing.

With proceedings expected to start at around 10.30am the murder re-trial into the death of Mrs Birbeck will run slightly differently to a normal trial.

Because of social distancing, the hearing will be split across three courtrooms to safely accommodate all those who will be attending.

Family of both the defendant and Mrs Birbeck, members of the public, members of the press, and representatives from the youth offending team as well as junior counsel will be split between two different courtrooms.

They will be connected by a live link to a third courtroom, which will seat the jury, judge, prosecution and defence barristers, and be used for witness evidence, to ensure social distancing guidelines are adhered to.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will appear in part via videolink from HMP Wetherby, where he has been on remand since last year.

The trial judge, Amanda Justice Yip said it would be beneficial for the teenager to be present on the first day of the trial and observe the remainder from HMP Wetherby.

She said: “This would then be reviewed and if he wants he can come to court and if he understands everything he can stay at Wetherby.

“It must be noted that this is an attended court hearing and we are only extending the court over three rooms because of the restrictions with space.”

The original trial into Mrs Birbeck’s murder began in February, but on March 10, following almost two weeks of proceedings at Preston Crown Court, 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 person 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 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 teenager accused of Mrs Birbeck's murder has remained in custody since.

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

The re-trial begins tomorrow and is expected to last for two weeks.