THE prosecutor leading the Lindsay Birbeck murder retrial told jurors the defendant’s story that a 'mystery man' killed the mother-of-two was ‘a work of fiction and complete nonsense’.
Summing up at Preston Crown Court David McLachlan QC told the nine women and three men responsible for delivering a verdict that the ‘mystery man who offered the teenager money if he disposed of a body’ was a ‘creation of the defendant’s limited imagination’.
Ms Birbeck, a mother-of-two from Huncoat, went missing on August 12 last year.
Her body was found in Accrington Cemetery on August 24, 12 days after she disappeared.
A teenager, now aged 17, denies murder and manslaughter but said he was asked by a stranger to get rid of the body which he admits doing using a wheelie bin.
Mr McLachlan said: “On the face of it this is a random attack on a stranger who was out for a walk.
“We urge you to put emotion and sympathy to one side.
“You must not convict the defendant because you feel sorry for Lindsay Birbeck’s family.
“We also ask you to take into consideration the defendant’s special needs - this is not a free pass for him and this does not mean he is not guilty.”
Mr McLachlan said the evidence pointed fairly and squarely to the defendant being the killer.
He said: “Less than a week ago you heard from Zoe Braithwaite - the first civilian witness to give evidence.
“Her evidence is important in this case. You have the defendant heading in the same direction as her, towards the Coppice on August 12.
“While on the Coppice her sixth sense kicked in. There was that feeling of unease.
“She saw a lone male about 100-120m away from her, who looked out of place in the woods at that time of year, wearing a grey hooded jacket with the hood up.
“She said she felt wary and feared the worst so walked down the hill as fast as she could and was hoping to see someone heading her way or something heavy that she could use to defend herself.
“However, the act of turning round startled her would-be attacker as when she turned around again he had gone. In short - the prosecution say he had been rumbled.
“He was on the quiet and lonely Coppice on his own and the prosecution’s case is that there were not two men on the Coppice both wearing charcoal tops, black trainers, hands in pockets with hoods up targeting targeting lonely females.
“The prosecution case is there is one and he is in the dock today.
“It is the prosecution submission that Ms Braithwaite had a lucky escape and her sixth sense kicking in was absolutely correct.
“Within minutes of Zoe Braithwaite arriving home, another female would be targeted on the Coppice and this time it would prove fatal and you all know her name.”
Mr McLachlan then turned to the evidence of the defendant’s school teachers, who had told the jury that if the youth didn’t want to do something he would ‘simply say no and not want to do it’.
He also reminded them they had said the defendant was not motivated by money and that ‘the promise of lots of money would not mean anything to him.’
He told the jury: “How would he react to a stranger? As we have heard, he would be shy, and wouldn’t make eye contact.
“When the defendant voluntarily attended the police station after being recognised in CCTV footage in relation to Mrs Birbeck’s disappearance, he provided details of the meeting with the mystery man in a prepared statement to the police.
“What does that tell you about his ability to communicate?
“You heard he is not motivated by money, and may do something without questioning why, but take into account what his teacher said about doing something without question. This is not the same - there is a world of difference between being asked to pick up litter by a teacher and being asked by a random stranger to get rid of a body.
“And you live in the real world, and that story does not hold water.
“Once she had been killed her body needed to be disposed of and she was put inside a blue wheelie bin, treated like rubbish, into the wheelie bin she went.
“But was there a mystery man? Or is the mystery man a creation of the defendant’s limited imagination?
“He can’t or won’t help you as to who this mystery man is and the prosecution say he can’t because the mystery man is him.
“Imagine you had killed someone, do you ask a random passer-by to dispose of the body without knowing what they would say or do?
“The defendant must think you were all born yesterday. There is no mystery male, it is the defendant.”
The jury were told that the defendant had done such a good job of hiding the body that even PC Cuthbertson and police dog Danny - who is trained to find DNA - didn’t discover the body.
Mr McLachlan said: “And all this for a mystery man? He went above and beyond the instruction of a mystery man to get rid of a body
“He showed no respect to the body of Mrs Birbeck as he attempted to cut through her body with a saw.
“The prosecution submit that his story is a work of fiction.
“It’s complete nonsense that someone who killed Mrs Birbeck would enlist the help of a passer by to get rid of the body and thereby confess to the unlawful killing he committed.
“So what about the money? We don’t see him heading back over to the Coppice for the money.
“When was he going to collect this money from the mystery man? Why would he need the money if he had no interest in money. It wasn’t about the money, it was all about him.
“And later, Morgan Parkinson and his dog went to the cemetery, and his dog did what police dog Danny could not do. And you know the rest of it.
“We submit that the defendant did not try to help the police as it was not in his interests
“The prosecution case is her killer sits in the dock of this court.
"There is no mystery man here.
The trial continues.