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A court heard that a primary school teacher wrapped her boyfriend’s body in a carpet and erected a structure in her backyard to conceal it.

Fiona Beal, 49, is accused of trying to confuse authorities by hiding her partner’s body in concrete slabs, wood planks, and bark chips.

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Jurors were informed that Miss Beal is accused of killing her partner Nicholas Billingham, 42, and then disposing of his body in their backyard garden.

Plastic bags, debris, cement, polystyrene, laminate flooring, pieces of fabric, and vinyl were also found in the Northampton home, according to a forensic archaeologist.

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Prosecutors claim Beal planned the killing, stabbing her long-term partner in the neck with a knife in their bedroom, after telling her headteacher she had Covid.

It is alleged a book found when Beal was arrested in March last year, contained a hand-written note saying she had offered the ‘incentive of sex’.

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She is said to have got Mr Billingham to wear an eye mask – and the note is said to have 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, who denies murder.

Giving evidence to Northampton Crown Court forensic archaeologist Peter Schofield took the jury through photographs taken as Mr Billingham’s body was uncovered during a three-day excavation.

Body found in Northampton garden
Nicholas Billingham’s body was found buried in the garden of Fiona Beal’s house in Northampton (Picture: PA)
SEI 148238279 bbe7
It took police three days to uncover Mr Billingham’s body (Picture: SWNS)

He told the court: ‘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 during the dig last year, Mr Schofield told the court paving slabs had been placed vertically, forming a ‘retaining wall’ to the mound.

After listing the various layers of material which were identified and removed, Mr Schofield told the jury: ‘There was a visible mound forming the approximate shape of a human body, which was covered by a rug and also by a carpet.’

Telling jurors how the ‘partially-clothed and partially-wrapped’ remains of 42-year-old 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.

Fiona is on the far left and Nick is sat next to her in a blue shirt. Picture of primary school teacher Fiona Beal, 48 and her former partner Nick Billingham, 42. Beal is charged with murdering Billingham. Police unearthed his body from their back garden in Northampton on Saturday. ID of both confirmed by two neighbours and in court by reporter Fiona is on the far left and Nick is sat next to her in a blue shirt.
Fiona Beal’s defence argues Nick Billingham, 42, was ‘psychologically domineering’

‘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.’

Jurors were also shown pictures of a knotted hose pipe and a cable found near Mr Billingham’s head, near more plastic ties.

Mr Schofield continued: ‘The partially-wrapped body was sited on top of plywood sheeting on top of weathered gravel, which appeared to be the ground surface prior to the deposition of the body.’

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

Her barrister, Andrew Wheeler KC, told the court on Monday that she would argue that she was mentally ‘broken’ at the time of the killing and is guilty of manslaughter but not murder.

The trial continues.

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