Primary School Teacher Confesses During Trial to Killing Boyfriend and Burying Him in Her Garden

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A primary school teacher, Fiona Beal, has pleaded guilty to murdering her boyfriend mid-trial after initially denying the charge. The 50-year-old teacher lured her boyfriend, Nicholas Billingham, 42, into their bedroom under the guise of sex, then tied him to the bed and stabbed him in the neck. She buried his body in the back garden of their Northampton home.

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Journal entries discovered by police revealed that Beal planned the murder “in cold blood,” having purchased a knife, chisel, and cable ties. She initially claimed the lesser offence of manslaughter due to loss of control but changed her plea to murder.

Judge Mark Lucraft of the Old Bailey, who presided over the case, told Beal: “You have this morning pleaded guilty to murder, which as you have no doubt been told, carries a sentence of life imprisonment.”

Beal, who lived at Moore Street, Northampton, was arrested in March 2022 after police discovered the partially mummified body of Nicholas Billingham four months after he was last seen. The court heard that Beal had been sending messages from Billingham’s phone after his death, pretending to be him, in a move the prosecution described as “as heartless as it was self-serving.”

Prosecutor Hugh Davies KC told the court that Beal messaged several people in early November 2021, claiming she and Billingham had contracted Covid-19 and needed to isolate. This, however, was later found to be false, as Beal had no evidence of taking a Covid test.

She also sent messages to her sisters indicating she and Billingham had split up because he had an affair with another woman. However, the prosecution stated this was also a fabricated narrative to cover up his murder.

In February 2022, Beal’s mental health deteriorated, and she rented a cabin in Cumbria, where she sent worrying messages to her family, leading them to contact police. Police found journals in the cabin detailing her plot to murder Billingham and the specifics of how she did it.

Promising sex after a bath, Beal tied Billingham to the bed and stabbed him while he was wearing a sleep mask. The court heard that Beal returned to work as a teacher while pretending Billingham had run off with another woman. This is the second time a trial has been held for this case, as a previous trial in Northampton had to be halted for legal reasons.

Beal will be sentenced on May 29 and 30, remaining in custody until then.

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