Missing man was lured into bathroom for sex, ended up in shallow backyard grave: police

A teacher in the U.K. stabbed her partner and buried him in the backyard after deciding he had cheated on her, prosecutors told a court this week. 

“The police recovered a notebook from the place where she had been renting that detailed a chilling account of how she had planned and killed someone, but it did not contain the name of the person she had killed,” prosecutor Steven Perian told the Northampton court as the trial commenced on Monday.

Fiona Beal, 49, denied killing her partner, Nicholas Billingham, 42, who allegedly had a history of cheating and was “cruel” to her. Prosecutors countered Beal’s claims by reading from her diary, in which she appeared to confess to the crime and detailed how she carried out the murder. 

“Nicholas Billingham whilst still in a relationship with the defendant had cheated on her with other women,” Perian said. “She believed he was cheating on her again.”

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The diary included allegations that Billingham would spit on Beal and threaten her during sex. 

“I thought about leaving but the things he said and did fueled my dark side,” Beal wrote. “I call her Tulip22, she’s reckless, fearless and efficient. Ruthless.” 

Police discovered Billingham’s mummified remains in the couple’s backyard roughly four and a half months after he was last seen at a business meeting, the BBC reported. Investigators had conducted a three-day search involving forensic officers, specialist search teams and a cadaver dog. 

Officers arrested Beal at a hotel in the northwest part of England. She denied killing him, but her diary, presented to jurors this week, appeared to detail Beal’s treatment at Billingham’s hands and plan to get back at him, according to The Independent. 

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Beal would have carried out the killing on the evening of Nov. 1, 2021, at which time she had told her school that she needed to self-isolate due to a COVID-19 infection since it would guarantee a 10-day isolation at that time. 

“I’d planned it mentally so many times before,” Beal wrote, according to Sky News. “I had a bath. I left the water in. I encourage the bath with the incentive of sex afterward.”

Perian alleged that Beal lured Billingham to their bathroom, where she stabbed him in the neck, then tied up and wrapped his body to bury in the backyard. She then painted and cleaned the bedroom to hide evidence of the killing. 

She wrote that she “knew” she could not let Billingham “get away” with his “cruel and belittling” treatment, saying he was “vile.” She indicated something had happened on Halloween that proved one step too far for her to tolerate any longer. 

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She even included details such as noting that “moving a body is much more difficult than it looks on TV.”

She then told others that Bilingham had left her for another woman and continued to send messages to his friends and colleagues to maintain the illusion that he was still alive. 

Police found Beal renting a lodge in Cumbria after suffering wounds and writing “what read like a suicide note.” She had booked a 10-day stay because she had been “feeling down” and needed time alone, according to The Times UK. 

“I believe she stated that in November 2021, there was a voice in her head that told her to stand up for herself,” Joshua Bromley of Lancashire Police told the court. Police made the “assumption” that this related to a partner or ex-partner. 

Pathologists concluded that the cause of Billingham’s death was a single stab wound to his neck. Officers also found a bloodstained mattress in the basement and an apparent blood stain on the bed frame in the bedroom. 

“I formed the opinion that Ms. Beal had killed her ex-partner and disposed of the body in some manner,” Ross Jenkins of Cumbria police told the court. 

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