Teacher's partner found buried under bark, rubble and bricks in Northampton garden, court told

Fiona Beal is accused of murdering her partner Nicholas Billingham.
Fiona Beal is accused of murdering Nicholas Billingham.

The body of a builder killed by a primary school teacher was found wrapped in carpet and buried in the back garden of their home, a court has heard.

Fiona Beal, 49, is alleged to have stabbed her boyfriend in the neck in the bedroom of their home in Moore Street, Northampton, in November 2021.

Nicholas Billingham's body was found buried under bark chippings, soil, concrete building blocks, and planks, a forensic archaeologist has told Northampton Crown Court.

Beal denies murdering the 42-year-old and her defence claim it was manslaughter.

Her barrister said Beal was mentally “broken” by the time of the killing, after being subjected to coercive behaviour.

It is alleged a book found when Beal was arrested in March last year, containing a hand-written note, amounted to a “confession” to the killing.

Beal’s barrister has claimed the “scribblings” are clear evidence of a disturbed mind on the part of the Year Six teacher.

Nicholas Billingham's body was found buried in the back garden of their home in Northampton. Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Giving evidence to Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, forensic archaeologist Peter Schofield, said: “The information I had was that on the 16th of March 2022 a missing person called Fiona Beal was found in a hotel room by officers from Cumbria Constabulary.

“Within the room was a journal allegedly detailing the planning of the murder of her partner, Nicholas Billingham, and the subsequent description of the disposal of his body.”

Mr Schofield said an area of interest had been identified by police at the Moore Street property, including a mound covered by bark chippings.

Jurors were shown photographs of the mound in a narrow rectangular area between a fence and the wall of an annexe housing Beal’s kitchen, leading to a set of French doors.

Describing what he found on March 18, 19 and 20 last year, Mr Schofield said: “There was a visible mound forming the approximate shape of a human body, which was covered by a rug and also by a carpet.”

Nicholas Billingham's body was found buried in the back garden of their home in Northampton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Telling jurors how the “partially-clothed and partially-wrapped” remains of Mr Billingham were found, Mr Schofield said: “The lower torso and legs were covered by a light blue fabric, possibly a fitted bedsheet.

“The head end was covered by a yellow-coloured patterned fabric/possible duvet cover.”

Plastic ties had been attached to Mr Billingham’s left wrist, Mr Schofield told the court, adding: “The body was lying on its back and it was partially wrapped with black plastic.

“These wrappings were secured on the lower legs with cable near to the feet and interlocked plastic ties near to the knees.

“An item of clothing, possibly a dressing gown, was visible on the upper torso and left arm.”

The court has previously heard Beal, who taught at Northampton’s Eastfield Academy, was a “thoroughly liked” teacher.

The trial continues.

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