A teenage boy has been found guilty of murdering teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck.

The verdict comes exactly one year to the day since the mother-of-two, from Huncoat, went missing.

The 47-year-old’s body was buried in a shallow grave in Accrington Cemetery and was found on August 24, 2019.

A jury of nine women and three men found the youth guilty following the conclusion of the trial at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday morning.

Sentencing will take place on Friday. 

The 17-year-old was just 16 when he murdered Mrs Birbeck and went to extraordinary lengths to dispose of her body – so much so that it took police and community searchers 12 days to discover her.

They found her naked and wrapped in plastic sheeting in a makeshift grave at the back of Accrington Cemetery, just a short walk from where she lived on Burnley Road.

Following his arrest on August 27 last year, and 11 subsequent police interviews in which he provided no comment answers before confessing in a pre-prepared statement to moving her body for an unknown male but denied killing her, he was charged with Mrs Birbeck’s murder on August 31.

An original trial date of February 2020 was set, and proceedings began, with prosecution barrister, David McLachlan QC, presenting his evidence, including witness statements and CCTV to a jury of eleven women and one man.

Lancashire Telegraph:

However, following an application to discharge the jury from defence barrister Mark Fenhalls QC, the judge in the trial, Amanda Justice Yip, agreed and a retrial with a new jury was ordered.

However, in what would be another set-back in the Crown’s quest for justice, this time due to the coronavirus crisis, the retrial had to be rescheduled with proceedings finally commencing on August 3.

A new jury was sworn in and after seven days of hearing evidence, which included CCTV footage, witness statements and forensic findings, Mr McLachlan and Mr Fenhalls presented jurors with their closing speeches.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Lindsay last seen walking towards Coppice on 12 August

The jury were officially sent to retire on Wednesday morning, and this afternoon they returned to the courtroom and delivered a unanimous verdict – the teenager was guilty of Lindsay Birbeck’s murder.

Her honour Amanda Justice Yip has told the jury that sentencing will take place on Friday.

She has told them they do not need to attend the sentencing if they do not wish to.