THE final prosecution witness in the Lindsay Birbeck murder retrial took to the stand at Preston Crown Court on Friday morning.

Lauren Henson was quizzed by David McLachlan QC about her membership to a gym in Accrington, which she started going to in January 2019.

She told the jury she normally attended on a Wednesday and Friday evening around 6pm and would often see a young man lifting weights along with an older gentleman.

Miss Henson said: "I saw them quite a lot. Not every time but more than once. They stood out.

"It was the clothes they were wearing. They weren't wearing gym clothes as such.

"The young lad didn't look like he should be in that area. The lad I saw with the older man didn't match. You get to know the type of person in that section and they were all big muscly men.

"He didn't look like he could lift those weights in that area as everyone else was big and muscly and he was small and thin."

Miss Henson was then asked about the moment she saw a police appeal for information in relation to Lindsay Birbeck's disappearance, and recalls noticing a young man in one of the CCTV images.

She said: "I was waiting to go to the gym and I was on Facebook and the footage popped up and I noticed it straight away and I phoned the police. I recognised the man in the footage was the young man I'd seen in the gym."

Lindsay 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 Mrs Birbeck, but has pleaded guilty to a new charge of assisting an unknown man in the moving and disposal of a body.

During the last five days of proceedings at Preston Crown Court, a jury of nine women and three men have been presented with various pieces of evidence from the prosecution as they brought their case against the teenager.

The evidence has included CCTV footage and statements from witnesses, who amongst them claim they saw a young man in the Burnley Road vicinity at the time of Mrs Birbeck's disappearance, as well sighting a young man pulling a wheelie bin between Accrington Cemetery and an area known locally as The Coppice - where prosecutors say she was killed - between August 12 and August 17.

Witnesses statements also informed the jury about the discovery of the blue wheelie bin in the grounds of Accrington Cemetery, where suspicion arose over its placement during community searches for the missing school teacher.

Jurors then heard a statement from Morgan Parkinson, a dog walker who found Lindsay Birbeck's body in a shallow grave at the back of Accrington Cemetery on August 24.

Pathology evidence was presented detailing the extensive injuries found on Mrs Birbeck's body, with Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter explaining that in her 25 years experience she had ‘never seen such extensive crushing damage to an entire larynx’.

The jury also heard a statement from the defendant, which was written after his arrest on August 27 and before he was formally charged with murder on August 31.

Part of the statement read: "I did not murder Lindsay Birbeck. I was not involved in her death. I was not present at the time or place of her death. I did move a body from an area off Burnley Road Accrington in a wheelie bin.

"At first I hid the body but later moved it again in a wheelie bin, taking it to the cemetery on Burnley Road where I buried it on my own. A man came up to me when I was walking alone in that area off Burnley Road and he asked me to 'get rid of a body' for him."

On Thursday, jurors heard from two of the defendant's school teachers who described him as being 'vulnerable and open to exploitation' as well as stating concerns that he 'could be easily led'.

Following Miss Henson's evidence, Mr McLachlan told the court he would close the case for the prosecution on Monday morning.

Mark Fenhalls QC will then begin his case for the defence.

The trial continues.