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Primary school teacher denies murdering man found buried in her back garden

The remains of Nicholas Billingham were found in the garden of a house in Northampton (Jacob King/PA)
The remains of Nicholas Billingham were found in the garden of a house in Northampton (Jacob King/PA)

A primary school teacher has pleaded not guilty to murdering a man who was found buried in her back garden.

Fiona Beal is accused of killing Nicholas Billingham, 42, between October 30 and November 10 last year.

At Northampton Crown Court on Friday, the 48-year-old defendant spoke only to confirm her name and her not guilty plea during a short hearing.

Mr Billingham’s body was found behind a house in Moore Street in the Kingsley area of Northampton, after a police search.

Body found in Northampton garden
Nicholas Billingham’s remains were found buried in the back garden of a Northampton house (Northamptonshire Police/PA)

He died as a result of a stab wound to the neck.

Beal was arrested at a hotel in Cumbria in March – the same day Northamptonshire Police began conducting an extensive search of her home.

Forensic officers and specialist search teams, including a cadaver dog, were deployed to the address before the discovery was made days later.

In a tribute to Mr Billingham previously released on behalf of his family by Northamptonshire Police, they said: “Our heart aches for Nick. He was a gorgeous little boy, and we have so many cherished memories of him growing up and were so proud of the man he became.

Body found in Northampton garden
Forensic officers at the scene in Moore Street (Jacob King/PA)

“He just got on with life, which has now been tragically cut short.

“Rest in peace, Nick. Until we meet again, sleep tight and remember all the good times we had together. We will love you always and forever.”

Northampton’s Eastfield Academy, where Beal worked before her arrest, said they were “shocked and saddened” to hear of Mr Billingham’s death – describing the incident as an “appalling tragedy that will shake our school community”.

Beal, of Moore Street, was remanded into custody to appear at the same court on September 6.

A trial date was previously set for September 12.