A 17-year-old boy who murdered teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck before burying her in a cemetery has been handed a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum 16 years in custody.
Rocky Marciano Price, 17, was named on Thursday, August 13, after being found guilty of the murder of an Accrington teaching assistant whose body he hid in a wheelie bin.
The body of the mum-of-two was discovered wrapped in two plastic bags in Accrington Cemetery in Lancashire on August 24 last year – 12 days after she went missing.
On Wednesday, Price was found unanimously guilty at Preston Crown Court of her murder, exactly a year on from when she disappeared.
Lindsay, 47, left her home in Burnley Road, Huncoat, for a late afternoon walk to a nearby wooded area known as the Coppice.
She had invited her daughter, Sarah, 17, and her boyfriend for tea at 6pm, but when she did not return as planned her family raised the alarm.
Price, who was 16 at the time, had been on the prowl in the woods for lone females and is thought to have killed the keep-fit enthusiast shortly after she entered the Coppice.
Price, who has autism and learning difficulties, admitted dragging the bin from the Coppice on August 17, with Mrs Birbeck inside, across Burnley Road to the cemetery.
But he claimed he was not involved in her death and that a mystery man had approached him in the area with the promise of a large cash reward if he disposed of the body.
Lindsay was identified through dental records and a post-mortem examination concluded the cause of death was neck injuries. Her naked body was heavily decomposed and no evidence of a sexual assault could be found.
Severe compressive force appeared to have been used, according to a Home Office pathologist, which could have been done in several ways including through stamping or kicking, or kneeling on the front of the neck.
An attempt had also been made to cut off a leg, possibly with a saw.
Giving the sentence, LancsLive reports Her Honour Mrs Justice Yip said: “There is only one sentence for a murder and that is a sentence of life imprisonment.
“A life sentence is just that. It maybe that the defendant is ever released from custody.
“If he is he will be on licence and likely to be recalled to prison for the rest of his life.
“There has to be a minimum term he will serve before he can be considered for release.”
Mrs Yip said he had been stalking another woman, Zoe Braithwaite, and she was “lucky” but Lindsay was not.
The Judge added: “Why the defendant chose to kill Lindsay only he knows.
“The evidence of the other woman demonstrates beyond doubt she was not targeted for any reason other that being a lone woman.
“This was the entirely random killing of a stranger. Such killings are rare.
“Having killed Lindsay he then set about concealing her body.
“He went home then returned with a rucksack and may have had a saw with him. He had attempted to cut off her leg.
“He must have discovered cutting through a leg was harder than anticipated.
“It is an odd feature of the case the defendant chose to move the body from the Coppice.
“I cannot speculate as to his reasons for doing that. Her body was not found for 12 days.
“I can only imagine the agony of Lindsay’s family and friends during that time.”
She added that Price’s mental disorder could not in any way "excuse or explain his actions".
Mrs Yip said the random nature of the attack will cause "significant public dismay and concern".
She told the court the "huge public response demonstrates the community impact of the crime".
Mrs Yip said: “The murder of a stranger in broad daylight with no rational explanation is horrifying to all members of society.
“The random nature of the killing shows the defendant presents a very real risk to members of the public
“There will no doubt be a significant amount of work and full risk assessments before defendant’s potential release.”
Price will only be released after a parole board decides he is not a danger.