Teacher’s partner ‘found buried under bark, rubble and bricks’
An elementary school teacher wrapped her boyfriend’s body in a rug and built a structure to hide him in her back garden, a court heard.
Fiona Beal, 49, is accused of using bark, concrete slabs and wooden boards to lead police to where she dumped her partner’s body.
Miss Beal is accused of killing her partner Nicholas Billingham, 42, before he disposed of his body in their back garden, jurors have been told.
A forensic archaeologist said plastic bags, rubble, mortar, Styrofoam, laminate flooring and bits of fabric and vinyl were also recovered from the Northampton home.
Prosecutors allege Beal planned the murder and stabbed her long-term partner in the neck in her bedroom after telling her principal she had Covid.
It is alleged that a book found when Beal was arrested in March last year contained a handwritten note saying she had offered the “incitement to have sex”.
She is said to have tricked Mr Billingham into wearing an eye mask – and the note is said to have amounted to a ‘confession’ of the murder.
Beal’s lawyer has claimed the “scribbles” are clear evidence of a deranged mind in the sixth grader who denies the murder.
Evidence before Northampton Crown Court forensic archaeologist Peter Schofield led the jury through photographs taken as Billingham’s body was uncovered during a three-day dig.
He told the court: “The information I had was that on 16 March 2022 a missing person named Fiona Beal was found in a hotel room by officers from Cumbria Constabulary.
“In the room was a diary which allegedly detailed the planning of the murder of her partner, Nicholas Billingham, and the subsequent description of the disposal of his body.”
Mr Schofield said police had identified an area of interest at the Moore Street property, including a mound covered in bark chips.
The jury was shown photos of the mound in a narrow rectangular area between a fence and the wall of an outbuilding that housed Beal’s kitchen and which led to a set of French doors.
Describing what he found during last year’s excavation, Mr Schofield said the court’s paving stones had been placed vertically, forming a ‘retaining wall’ to the mound.
After listing the various layers of material identified and removed, Mr Schofield told the jury, “There was a visible mound, roughly in the shape of a human body, covered by a rug and also by a rug.”
Mr Schofield told jurors how the “partially clothed and partially wrapped” remains of 42-year-old Mr Billingham were found: “The lower torso and legs were covered with a light blue fabric, possibly a fitted sheet.
‘The headboard was covered with a yellow patterned fabric/possible duvet cover.’
Plastic bands were attached to Mr Billingham’s left wrist, Mr Schofield told the court, adding: “The body was lying on its back and was partially wrapped in black plastic.
“These bandages were attached to the lower legs with cables near the feet and interlocking plastic straps near the knees.
“One piece of clothing, possibly a dressing gown, was visible on the torso and left arm.”
The jury was also shown pictures of a knotted hose and cable found near Mr Billingham’s head, along with other plastic ties.
Mr Schofield continued: “The partially wrapped body was placed on a sheet of plywood on top of weathered gravel, which appeared to be the ground surface before the body was deposited.”
The court has previously heard that Beal, who taught at Eastfield Academy in Northampton, was a “quite popular” teacher.
Her attorney, Andrew Wheeler KC, told the court Monday that she will argue that she was mentally “broken” at the time of the murder and that she pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not murder.
The process goes on.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/15/teachers-partner-found-buried-under-bark-rubble-and-bricks-18450625/ Teacher's partner 'found buried under bark, rubble and bricks'