THE Lindsay Birbeck murder retrial has heard from witnesses who saw a young man pulling a heavy wheelie bin close to Accrington Cemetery where her body was found.

A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies murder and manslaughter but has pleaded guilty to assisting an offender, an unnamed man, to move and dispose of Mrs Birbeck’s body.

A jury at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday was shown CCTV evidence of the defendant’s movements on August 17 last year, five days after Mrs Birbeck went missing.

Judge Amanda Justice Yip told them: “The defendant has admitted that that was him and that was the day he was moving the body to the cemetery.”

Mrs Birbeck, from Huncoat, went missing on August 12 last year.

Police launched a missing persons appeal and extensive searches of the areas close to Burnley Road, where she 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 and denies killing the mother-of-two.

The prosecution’s case is that Mrs Birbeck, 47, was killed by the defendant before he moved her body in a wheelie bin from The Coppice in Accrington and buried her in a makeshift grave.

The teaching assistant’s naked body was then discovered by a dog walker in Accrington Cemetery, on August 24, 12 days after she went missing.

An original trial commenced in March, but a retrial was ordered following an application to discharge the jury.

On Tuesday, jurors heard how Mrs Birbeck died due to substantial neck injuries and were told of extensive injuries caused to her body.

On Wednesday, two more witnesses were called to the stand, and jurors heard statements from several other people who claimed to have seen the defendant pulling a blue wheelie bin in the days leading up to the discovery of Mrs Birbeck’s body.

The first witness, Judith Bibby, told the jury how she and her husband, Martin, had been out walking their dog on The Coppice on August 12.

She explained how she had seen what looked like a red anorak hanging on a fence.

She said: “I was glancing to the left side which was quite brambly and not accessible from the path and I could see a red garment.

“It was about five metres away from me as was as clear as day.”

Mrs Bibby told the court she also heard a voice and thought ‘it’s only kids’ but didn’t see anyone and couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

Various pieces of CCTV footage were then presented to the jury, showing the defendants’ movements in the days between August 12 and August 20.

The jury were able to see that the defendant made several trips between an area behind 332 Burnley Road (The Coppice), and Accrington Cemetery.

At times he was spotted with a rucksack on his back and then was caught on camera pulling a blue wheelie bin up Burnley Road before disappearing up a pathway between two houses in the direction of The Coppice.

Calling Anthony Dewhurst to the witness stand, Mr McLachlan asked him about August 12, the day he saw a young man pulling a wheelie bin along Burnley Road.

Mr Dewhurst told the jury he ‘could tell the wheelie bin was empty from the way it sounded as it was being pulled along.’

Witness statements from Stephen Greenwood, Natalie Bartholomew, Nick Haworth, and Elaine Hewitt were also read to the jury, in which they all describe seeing a young man pulling a blue wheelie bin along Burnley Road and into the cemetery on August 17.

Each of their statements refers to the wheelie bin as ‘appearing heavy’.

Stephen Greenwood’s statement read: “I spotted a male pulling a wheelie bin on the pavement in the direction of the cemetery and he stopped at the junction of Whitewell Road.

“The male changed his grip and manoeuvred the bin onto an ‘uneven surface’.

“Considering how he did this I believe there was weight in the bin.”

Subsequent sightings of the bin within the cemetery grounds close to where Mrs Birbeck’s body would later be found were referenced in further witness statements, and one witness described seeing a white tissue with blood on it in the cemetery, while another described the ground around the bin as being ‘flattened’, like someone had laid carpet and then removed it.

The jury were then told how on August 20, dog walker Jonathan Kell, had been in the cemetery and had let his dog off the leash at an opening, before walking down to a dense wooded area close to the railway line.

Mr Kell noticed a blue wheelie bin five metres inside the wood and said he ‘became inquisitive and went to look inside the bin, which looked really clean, unused and new’.

Later, Mr Kell said he noticed his dog ‘had a patch of blood on his paw, and had small speckles of blood on his stomach, but he could not see any injury.’

The trial continues.