Teen accused of murdering mum-of-two
A 16-year-old boy has appeared in court accused of the alleged random attack of a teaching assistant found strangled at a cemetery.
The youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, made his first appearance in court yesterday charged with the murder of 47-year-old mother-of-two Lindsay Birbeck.
The boy's parents sat in front of the glass dock at Blackburn Magistrates Court as the youngster was led up in handcuffs.
A dock officer released the cuffs and flanked him as the boy gave his name, date of birth and address to the court.
The boy, wearing a white shirt, nodded when asked if his nationality was British.
His tearful mother frequently looked back at her son during the 20-minute hearing and nervously smiled at him on occasion.
The teenager is alleged to have murdered Mrs Birbeck between August 12 and August 24.
No indication of plea was given as the boy was remanded into secure accommodation by chairman of the bench Paul Wright.
Mr Wright told him: "We are not making any decision today about whether you are guilty or not. That is for a later time and has to be dealt with at a crown court. Do you understand that?"
The boy replied: "Yes."
He will next appear at Preston Crown Court today.
Earlier the youngster was led into the side of the building from a police van with a jacket over his head.
Mrs Birbeck went missing from her home in Huncoat, Accrington, on August 12, and her disappearance prompted wide-ranging searches by hundreds of members of the community. Her body was found in Accrington Cemetery on August 24, and a murder inquiry was launched. A post-mortem examination showed she died as a result of compression of the neck.
Her children Steven, 19 and Sarah, 16, said they had lost "not only our mum but our best friend too".