Defendant's claim of mystery man 'implausible beyond belief' say prosecution in Lindsay Birbeck murder trial

The prosecution's case has completed today in the trial of a teenage boy accused of murdering Burnley teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck.
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The trial, which is taking place across three court rooms at Preston Crown Court to allow for social distancing, began last week after an original trial earlier in the year collapsed.

The defendant, a 17 year old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 16 when 47 year old Lindsay disappeared on August 12th last year after walking in a wooded area known locally as the Coppice in Accrington.

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Lindsay, of Huncoat, worked as a teaching assistant at Burnley's Ightenhill Primary School.

Lindsay BirbeckLindsay Birbeck
Lindsay Birbeck

A post-mortem examination, conducted by Home Office pathologist Dr Naomi Carter, gave the cause of Mrs Birbeck's death was neck injuries, and that "severe compressive force" appeared to have been used.

Her body was discovered in a shallow grave at Accrington Cemetery on August 24th by a man walking his dog.

After Mrs Birbeck's body was discovered, detectives issued a CCTV still of a male pulling a wheelie bin along Burnley Road to media.

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The defendant was then taken to the police station by his parents.

He has admitted to disposing of Lindsay's body but denied her murder and a new lesser charge of manslaughter.

The defendant has declined to go in the witness stand but in a statement claims he was offered a large sum of money to dispose of the body by an unknown white man who spoke English.

The prosecution, summed up by Mr David McLachlan QC, described that claim as "implausible beyond belief".

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He said the prosecution case is that the defendant acted alone and that "the mystery man does not exist".

He also told the jury: "The prosecution submit that is a work of fiction. It’s a complete nonsense that someone who killed Mrs Birbeck would enlist the help of a passer-by to get rid of the body and thereby confess to the unlawful killing he committed.

Referring to ealier evidence from witness Zoe Braithwaite, who had witnessed a young male wearing a charcoal tracksuit with his hood up on the Coppice shortly before Lindsay was killed, Mr McLachlan added: "The prosecution say it was one lone male, on the Coppice, on the prowl, targeting females."

Presiding judge, Her Honour Mrs Justice Yip, urged jury to "not let emotions influence you".

The defence will sum up its case tomorrow.