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

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

On Tuesday, Preston Crown Court heard another walker, Zoe Braithwaite, entered The Coppice on the same afternoon and noticed a lone male walking "very slowly" in the same direction on a parallel path.

He was getting closer to her as they approached the point where the paths met, she said.

Prosecutor David McLachlan QC asked Mrs Braithwaite: "At that stage did you have any concerns?"

She replied: "I was instantly wary because he just looked out of place in the wood... he was not normally the type of person I would meet up at The Coppice.

"Normally I didn't see young people walking alone up there, it's mainly dog walkers and families.

"I had decided that whichever way he went I would take a different route."

She said she did not expect to see the male again as she cut across open moorland and he had taken a longer route but as she later rejoined the main path he was about 50 metres away.

Mrs Braithwaite said: "As I glanced over my shoulder it looked as if he had pulled up and had been running. At that point I was seriously concerned.

"I walked as fast as I could down a swift descent hoping I could see some people or something heavy on the ground in case I needed to defend myself."

She confirmed she did not see him again and had never got close enough to see his face.

She described the male as aged about 20 to 25, from 6ft to 6ft 2in in height and wearing a grey top with a hood up and grey tracksuit trousers.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies murder and manslaughter.