Teenager to be sentenced for teaching assistant’s murder

A 17-year-old boy who dumped the body of a teaching assistant in a wheelie bin will be sentenced on Friday.

Rocky Marciano Price attacked Lindsay Birbeck, 47, in woods close to her home before he later moved her body in the bin to Accrington Cemetery where he buried her in a shallow grave.

His victim was discovered wrapped in two plastic bags on August 24 last year – 12 days after she went missing, which prompted a huge search by police and members of the community.

Lindsay Birbeck
Lindsay Birbeck (Lancashire Police/PA)

On Wednesday, Price, of Whinney Hall Road, Accrington, was found guilty at Preston Crown Court of her murder, exactly a year on from when she disappeared.

Mrs Birbeck left her home in Burnley Road, Accrington, for a late afternoon walk to a nearby wooded area known as the Coppice.

She had invited her daughter, Sarah, 17, and Sarah’s boyfriend for tea at 6pm, but when she did not return as planned her family raised the alarm.

Price, who was 16 at the time, had been on the prowl in the woods for lone females and is thought to have killed Mrs Birbeck shortly after she entered the Coppice.

The blue wheelie bin found in the cemetery
The blue wheelie bin found in the cemetery (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)

His parents took him to a police station several days after Mrs Birbeck was found, when police released a CCTV clip of a young male pulling a blue wheelie bin behind him on Burnley Road.

Price, who has autism and learning difficulties, admitted dragging the bin from the Coppice on August 17, with Mrs Birbeck inside, across Burnley Road to the cemetery.

But he claimed he was not involved in her death and that a mystery man had approached him in the area with the promise of a large cash reward if he disposed of the body.

Mrs Birbeck was identified through dental records and a post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was neck injuries.

Her naked body was heavily decomposed and no evidence of a sexual assault could be found.

Severe compressive force appeared to have been used, according to a Home Office pathologist, which could have been done in several ways including through stamping or kicking, or kneeling on the front of the neck.

An attempt had also been made to cut off a leg, possibly with a saw.

Sentencing will take place from 10.30am.

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