Teacher 'lured boyfriend to bed, blindfolded him and then stabbed him to death'

A primary school teacher stabbed her boyfriend to death then hid his body in her back garden for months, a court has heard.

Fiona Beal, 49, is accused of killing her partner Nicholas Billingham and disposing of him after she called in sick to her workplace, saying she had Covid.

She allegedly believed he was cheating on her again after a string of infidelities throughout their 17-year relationship – with one of the women he slept with becoming pregnant and having his child.

Prosecutors said Beal had stabbed the 42-year-old in her bedroom, bought items from B&Q, then buried him in her garden.

The jury heard she then left a ‘chilling’ journal at a rental property in the Lake District, detailing how she had committed a murder – and blaming it on a dark alter ago she called Tulip22.

The Year 6 teacher was arrested in March last year, after police discovered Mr Billingham’s body under carpet wrapped in a bedsheet, duvet and cable ties and buried in her back garden in Kingsley, Northampton.

The 42-year-old builder had been missing since the end of October 2021, with the jury being told the murder was likely to have taken place on November 1.

Prosecutor Steven Perian KC said: ‘She believed he was cheating on her again.

‘Instead of leaving him, she worked out a plan on how and when to kill him, where to conceal his body, how to cover up and explain his disappearance to others and to explain her own absence from work when she killed him.’

After the alleged murder, Mr Perian said Beal had ‘carried on with her normal life as if nothing had happened’, repainting the bedroom to cover the blood spatters.

The jury at Northampton Crown Court heard Beal had sent messages from Mr Billingham’s phone following his death, pretending to be him and claiming he had also caught Covid.

She had later checked in to the High Borrans Lodges near Windermere, Mr Perian said, where police first spoke to her.

A fellow teacher at Eastfield Academy had raised concerns with officers after Beal was found to have lied about being absent due to the coronavirus, the court was told.

The prosecutor said Beal told police she had been looking for some ‘some peace and quiet’.

Three days after they left, she sent a message to her family saying: ‘I am so sorry. I love you all very much.’

Police returned to find a suspected suicide note and Beal lying in the bath with her wrists cut. She was then sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The court heard officers also found a blue notebook, which detailed the planning and killing of a man.

Mr Perian read an excerpt, which said the behaviour of Mr Billingham ‘fuelled my dark side – I call her Tulip22, she’s reckless, fearless and efficient’.

It continued: ‘I started plotting as Tulip22 after he’d gone to bed.

‘I got used to sleeping downstairs and waited for him to go to bed and then got high and let Tulip22 out. Halloween sealed it. He was vile. That night I planned.’

The notebook then allegedly describes how, on November 1: ‘He (Billingham) had been pushing for sex. I encouraged the bath with the incentive of sex afterwards.

‘While he was in the bath I kept the knife in my dressing gown pocket and then hid it in the drawer next to the bed.

‘I brought a chisel, bin bag and cable ties up too. I got him to wear an eye mask. It was harder than I thought it would be.

‘Hiding a body was bad. Moving a body is much more difficult than it looks on TV. I started to believe the cover story.’

Beal denies murder, with her defence arguing it is a case of manslaughter as she was ‘worn down until she was quite literally broken’ by the ‘psychologically domineering’ Mr Billingham.

The trial continues.

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