A teenager has been found guilty of murdering Accrington mother of two Lindsay Birbeck.
Lindsay, 47, left her house on Burnley Road in Accrington on 12 August 2019 to go for a walk.
Tragically she never returned home.
Lindsay’s disappearance sparked a major investigation to find her, with multiple agencies and members of the public searching tirelessly for 12 days.
The search was concluded on 24 August 2019 when Lindsay’s body was sadly found concealed in Accrington Cemetery, leading police to declare a murder investigation and a subsequent manhunt for her killer.
A post mortem examination revealed Lindsay died as a result of severe neck injuries and we believe she was killed within minutes of leaving her home. The scene of Lindsay’s murder has never been identified, but police believe it happened on an area known locally as the Coppice.
CCTV suggests Lindsay’s body was moved to the cemetery in a blue wheelie bin on Saturday 17th August.
Following a CCTV appeal for information, a 16-year-old male was identified, arrested and charged in connection with Lindsay’s murder.
Lindsay’s shoes were found during a search of a skip from the cemetery. The soles had been cut off and the defendant’s DNA was found on them.
The defendant, now 17, who cannot be named under the law, was convicted of murder today (Wednesday, August 12) following a two-week trial at Preston Crown Court.
He had always denied murder, but admitted to moving Lindsay’s body.
Detective Superintendent Andy Cribbin of Lancashire Police, said: “This is a despicable crime in which a complete stranger, who for reasons known only to himself, attacked and killed Lindsay. He then set about covering his tracks and attempting to conceal Lindsay’s body.
“Our subsequent CCTV enquiries show that the defendant made several trips between an area close to the Coppice and the cemetery in the subsequent days and it is our belief that he even did a dry run to see if he could successfully move Lindsay’s body without being caught.
“Throughout the investigation and trial, the defendant weaved a tale of lies and tried to pass the blame onto an ‘unknown man’, who in reality did not exist. He has shown no remorse whatsoever for his offending and the devastation caused to the lives of Lindsay’s family and friends.
“I have nothing but admiration for Lindsay’s children Sarah and Steven, her family, colleagues and many friends. They have suffered a huge loss and have conducted themselves with dignity from the outset and throughout the trial. I hope this outcome helps them in some way with their grieving.
“I would like to thank the jury for their attention and careful consideration of the facts in delivering this verdict in what was a distressing case for them to hear.
“When Lindsay went missing the outpouring of support from the community of Accrington and elsewhere was gratefully received. For days on end people assisted with searching for Lindsay, assisting the police officers, firefighters and Mounted Rescue colleagues, who were all devastated when our worst fears were realised. Their dedication shows how loved and respected Lindsay was by so many people and it makes it so much harder to understand how her life came to end so tragically. I would like to thank everyone on behalf of Lindsay’s family and the Police for all of their help and well wishes.
“Finally, I would like to thank all of the police staff and officers, the Crown Prosecution Service and prosecution counsel for their tireless work in piecing together what happened to Lindsay and bringing the defendant to justice.”
Lindsay’s family have paid the following tribute to her: “As a family we are completely devastated that Lindsay has been taken from us so suddenly in such an appalling way.
“However, we do feel some sense of relief that the defendant has been found guilty of murdering Lindsay and that justice has now been served.
“Lindsay went for a walk on a sunny afternoon in August and never came home, it’s unthinkable that something as brutal as this could happen in our close community to someone that was loved so very dearly.
“Our lives have been utterly destroyed by the evil, cowardly behaviour of the defendant and the horrific manner in which she was murdered – it has left a huge void in our lives that will never be filled.
“This callous act has destroyed our lives forever.
“We would like to thank everybody in the community that searched for Lindsay, generously giving up their own time; we can never repay that kindness and we will never forget the compassion that they showed our family at such a difficult time.
“We would also like to thank the police that have worked tirelessly throughout this investigation, the legal team that have supported us and the family liaison officers that have been by our side since Lindsay first went missing.
“Our family now need time to reflect and grieve for Lindsay and try to rebuild our shattered lives.”
The defendant will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Friday (August 14).