Northampton teacher ‘lured friend to bed then stabbed him’

Fiona Beal has been accused of the murder of her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Billingham (Image: PA)

Fiona Beal has been accused of the murder of her ex-boyfriend Nicholas Billingham (Image: PA)

An elementary school teacher stabbed her boyfriend and then hid his body in her back garden for months, a court heard.

Fiona Beal, 49, is accused of killing and disposing of her partner Nicholas Billingham after she called in sick at work and said she had Covid.

She reportedly believed he would cheat on her again after a series of infidelities during their 17-year relationship — getting pregnant and having his child with one of the women he’d slept with.

Prosecutors said Beal stabbed the 42-year-old in her bedroom, bought items from B&Q and then buried him in her yard.

Jurors heard she then left a “terrifying” diary in a Lake District tenement, detailing how she committed a murder – and blaming it on an obscure alter she named Tulip22.

The sixth year teacher was arrested in March last year after police discovered Mr Billingham’s body under a rug, which had been wrapped in a bed sheet, duvet and zip ties and buried in her back garden in Kingsley, Northampton .

The 42-year-old builder has been missing since late October 2021, with the jury being told the murder likely took place on November 1.

Prosecutor Steven Perian KC said: “She believed he was cheating on her again.

“Instead of leaving him, she worked out a plan for how and when to kill him, where to hide his body, how to cover up his disappearance and explain to others, and explain her own absence from work when she killed him.”

Fiona is on the far left and Nick is sitting next to her in a blue shirt. Picture of primary school teacher Fiona Beal, 48, and her former partner Nick Billingham, 42. Beal is accused of Billingham's murder. Police dug up his body in their back garden in Northampton on Saturday. Both of their IDs, which have been verified by two neighbors and in court by reporter Fiona, are on the far left and Nick is seated next to her in a blue shirt.

Fiona Beal’s defense argues Nick Billingham, 42, is ‘psychologically domineering’

After the alleged murder, Mr Perian said Beal “went on with her normal life as if nothing had happened” and repainted the bedroom to cover the blood spatter.

The Northampton Crown Court jury heard that Beal had sent messages from Mr Billingham’s phone after his death pretending to be him and claiming he also caught Covid.

She had later checked into High Borrans Lodges, near Windermere, Mr Perian said, where police first spoke to her.

A colleague at Eastfield Academy had raised concerns with officials after Beal was found to have lied about being absent due to the coronavirus, the court has been told.

Forensic officers at the crime scene in Moore Street, Kingsley, Northampton, after discovering a body in a back garden. The remains are expected to be taken to Leicester where they will be forensically examined by a Home Office pathologist but are believed to be those of a missing 42-year-old man. The investigation was launched following the arrest of Fiona Beal, 48, early Wednesday morning at a Cumbria hotel. She has now been charged with murder. Picture date: Sunday March 20, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story POLICE Northampton. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire

Forensic experts at Fiona Beal’s home after Mr Billingham’s body was discovered in the garden (Image: PA)

The prosecutor said Beal told police they were looking for “some peace and quiet”.

Three days after she left, she texted her family: “I’m so sorry. I love you all very much.’

Police returned and found what was believed to be a suicide note and Beal lying in the bath with his wrists slashed. She was then partitioned under the Mental Health Act.

The court heard officers also found a blue notebook detailing the planning and killing of a man.

Mr Perian read an excerpt which said Mr Billingham’s behavior had “fueled my dark side – I call her Tulip22, she’s ruthless, fearless and efficient”.

Body found in Northampton garden

Nicholas Billingham’s body was found buried in the garden of Fiona Beal’s home in Northampton (Image: PA)

It continues: “I started planning as Tulip22 after he went to bed.

“I got used to sleeping downstairs and waiting for him to go to bed and then got high and let Tulip22 out. Halloween sealed it. He was mean. I have planned this night.’

The notebook then reportedly describes how on November 1: “He (Billingham) had been pushing for sex. I encouraged the bath with the thrill of sex afterwards.

“While he was in the bathroom, I kept the knife in my dressing gown pocket and then hid it in the drawer by the bed.

“I also brought a chisel, garbage bag and zip ties. I made him wear an eye mask. It was harder than I thought.

“Hiding a body was bad. Moving a body is a lot harder than it looks on TV. I started to believe the cover story.’

Beal denies murder, with her defense arguing it was a case of manslaughter as she was “worn down to the point of literally being broken” by the “psychologically domineering” Mr Billingham.

The process goes on.

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Justin Scacco

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