Body of Nicholas Billingham identified by dental records after being found in Northampton garden

Nicholas Billingham was "taken from us far too early", said his family.
Credit: Family photo
Nicholas Billingham, 42, was found buried in a back garden. Credit: Northamptonshire Police

A man whose body was found buried in the back garden of a house had to be identified by his dental records, an inquest heard.

A short hearing held by the assistant coroner for Northampton, Hassan Shah, was told 42-year-old Nicholas Billingham is believed to have died from a stab wound.

Mr Billingham's former partner, primary school teacher Fiona Beal, appeared in court last month charged with his murder sometime between 30 October and 10 November 2021.

Mr Shah said Mr Billingham's body was found last month at a property in Moore Street.

He told the court: "I have a report from Richard Leigh Evans, a forensic odontologist, confirming a positive identification on the basis of dental records.

An aerial drone image shows the garden dug up by police at Moore Street Credit: ITV Anglia

"In relation to the provisional cause of death, I have a statement from Dr Frances Hollingbury, a registered forensic pathologist, of stab wound to the neck, pending further tests."

The inquest has been adjourned until 21 September.

Beal was arrested at a hotel in Cumbria shortly after midnight on 16 March, leading detectives to begin conducting an extensive search of her home.

Forensic officers enter the property with a police dog Credit: Jacob King/PA

The 48-year-old is due to appear at Northampton Crown Court for a pre-trial hearing on 19 April.

Northampton's Eastfield Academy, where Beal worked before her arrest, said the school was "shocked and saddened" to hear of Mr Billingham's death, describing the incident as an "appalling tragedy that will shake our school community".