Boy, 17, jailed for 'brutal' wheelie bin murder of teaching assistant

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·4-min read

The teenage killer of teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck has been jailed for life for the ‘brutal’ murder.

Rocky Marciano Price, 17, attacked mother-of-two Birbeck in woods near her home before dumping her body in a wheelie bin and moving it to a shallow grave in a cemetery.

Birbeck went missing in August last year, having gone for a walk in woodland near her home in Accrington, Lancashire, where Price attacked her ‘for no reason’.

She was discovered wrapped in two plastic bags on August 24 last year – 12 days after she went missing, which prompted a huge search by police and members of the community.

Price, of Accrington, who was 16 at the time Birbeck died, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years on Friday.

At his sentencing hearing on Friday, Birbeck’s daughter Sarah, 17, said: “My mum was a higher level teaching assistant and the irony is she would have taught boys like the defendant and would have tried her best to help him.

“To know now that he murdered her for absolutely no reason is heartbreaking and has not sunk in yet. Not within me or other members of my family.

Lindsay Birbeck on Burnley Road, Accrington, walking on the day she died. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)
Lindsay Birbeck on Burnley Road, Accrington, walking on the day she died. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)

“The fact that he has made us come to court and listen to every graphic detail of my mum’s murder when he could have saved us this pain by pleading guilty is unforgivable.

“All our lives are completely ruined and I don’t see how we will ever recover as a family as the void that has been left will never be filled.”

During the teenager’s trial, the same court heard he was seen on CCTV on the same day she went missing, taking a blue wheelie bin to the woodland.

On 17 August, he was seen moving it, and the prosecution said it now contained Birbeck’s body.

She was later discovered by a dog walker, and a post-mortem examination found she had died from neck injuries and severe compressive force appeared to have been used, the court heard.

An attempt had also been made to cut off a leg, possibly with a saw.

Price admitted moving the bin and burying Birbeck’s body but denied involvement in her death.

Rocky Marciano Price, 17, who can be named after reporting restrictions were lifted. (PA/Lancashire Constabulary)
Rocky Marciano Price, 17, who can be named after reporting restrictions were lifted. (PA/Lancashire Constabulary)

He said a stranger he came across while walking promised him money if he disposed of the body, while his defence told jurors the DNA and scientific evidence suggested she could have been killed by someone she knew, instead of a stranger.

However, prosecutor David McLachlan QC described Price’s story as “a complete nonsense”, concocted by the teenager.

Sentencing, Justice Yip said: “The attack was swift and brutal.

“I am sure the defendant lay in wait with the intention of killing a passing woman.

“Why he decided to kill her only he knows. If it had not been Lindsay Birbeck, it could have been someone else.

“This was the entirely random killing of a stranger.”

The jury was told Price had no previous convictions and lived with his family at a home near the cemetery.

He has been described as quiet, and has learning difficulties. He was diagnosed autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The blue wheelie bin found in the cemetery, which prosecutors said Price used to move Birbeck's body. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)
The blue wheelie bin found in the cemetery, which prosecutors said Price used to move Birbeck's body. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)
Lindsay Birbeck walking to The Coppice in Accrington on 12 August. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)
Lindsay Birbeck walking to The Coppice in Accrington on 12 August. (PA Images/Lancashire Constabulary)

Price has a low IQ of 65 and would usually shrug in response to conversation but had never shown signs of violence, the court heard.

He had a “limited understanding” of his own emotional wellbeing and little insight into the link between events and emotions.

Justice Yip said: “In my judgment, the defendant’s mental disorder cannot in any way excuse, or even explain, his actions.

“I have no doubt he knew what he was doing when he killed Lindsay Birbeck and that he knew that killing her was terribly wrong.

“His actions after the killing clearly suggest he had the capacity to plan and reason.

“The defendant was also capable of putting forward a story which, while incredible, was designed to explain the evidence against him.”

Outside court, Price’s father, Creddy, 47, argued there was no DNA evidence to link his son to the actual killing.

He said: “Our son is innocent, he has not got the mental capacity to hurt anyone. We are not going to stop fighting, if it takes us all our lives, to find this other man.”