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Lindsay Birbeck murder: Teenager jailed for life for killing mum-of-two whose body he buried in shallow grave

A 17-year-old boy has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 16 years for the murder of a mother-of-two whose body he buried in a shallow grave at a Lancashire cemetery.

Rocky Marciano Price attacked teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck as she took an afternoon walk in woods near her home in Accrington last summer.

The 47-year-old’s remains were found wrapped in two plastic bags in Accrington Cemetery on 24 August last year – 12 days after she went missing.

Price was named for the first time on Thursday after reporting restrictions covering his anonymity were lifted by a judge.

The teenager from Accrington – who was 16 at the time he killed – had been on the prowl in the woods for lone females and is thought to have murdered Mrs Birbeck shortly after she entered the area, known as the Coppice.

She died from neck injuries inflicted by either stamping or kicking or kneeling on the front of the neck, a Home Office pathologist told jurors at Preston Crown Court.

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

Price was convicted of her murder after a jury unanimously rejected his account that a mystery man had offered him a large cash reward if he disposed of a body.

Sentencing Price to life, Mrs Justice Yip said: “The attack was swift and brutal.

“I am sure the defendant lay in wait with the intention of killing a passing woman.

“Why he decided to kill her only he knows. If it had not been Lindsay Birbeck, it could have been someone else.

“This was the entirely random killing of a stranger.”

Mrs Birbeck’s teenage daughter Sarah has said it was “unforgivable” that her killer had not admitted his guilt and spared her family the pain of a trial, saying their lives had been “completely ruined”.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, she said: “My mum was a higher level teaching assistant and the irony is she would have taught boys like the defendant and would have tried her best to help him.

“To know now that he murdered her for absolutely no reason is heart-breaking and has not sunk in yet. Not within me or other members of my family.

“The fact that he has made us come to court and listen to every graphic detail of my mum’s murder when he could have saved us this pain by pleading guilty is unforgivable.”

Mrs Birbeck had invited Sarah and her daughter’s boyfriend for tea, but when she did not return as planned, her family raised the alarm.

Price’s 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 17 August, with Mrs Birbeck inside, across to the cemetery.

Mrs Birbeck was identified through dental records.

He daughter added: “All our lives are completely ruined and I don’t see how we will ever recover as a family as the void that has been left will never be filled.”

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