Primary school teacher Fiona Beal jailed for life for killing Nicholas Billingham and burying him in garden

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Fiona Beal, the primary school teacher who stabbed her partner to death and buried his body in the back garden, has been handed a life sentence at the Old Bailey today.

Primary school teacher Fiona Beal has been jailed for life at the Old Bailey today (May 30), for stabbing to death her partner Nicholas Billingham and burying his body in the back garden. She will have to serve a minimum term of 20 years.

The 50-year-old admitted to the murder of Nicholas Billingham, 42, at their Northampton home in November 2021. She stabbed him in the neck and buried him in a side passage outside the house before pretending he had left her. As part of the cover-up, she sent messages from Mr Billingham’s phone and convinced his family that he was safe and happy. Mr Billingham’s body was eventually uncovered in March 2022, leading to her arrest.

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On the first day of her sentencing at the Old Bailey on Wednesday (May 29), Mr Billingham’s mother Yvonne Valentine described Beal as “pure evil”. She recalled the last time she saw her son when she ran into him with Beal in Tesco on October 18 2021. In a victim impact statement read to court, she said: “I remember being happy to see you both together and that you gave me a hug but it never crossed my mind that you were quietly and secretly planning to kill Nick.”

After Mr Billingham was killed, Ms Valentine sent texts to him and Beal which went unanswered. She said: “I now know that Nick could not reply to my message and that he will never reply to any of my messages again because you killed him and buried him in the garden…like rubbish.

Fiona Beal, 50, has been jailed for life for killing her 42-year-old boyfriend Nicholas Billingham, whose partly mummified remains were discovered four-and-a-half months after he was last seen. Picture: SWNSFiona Beal, 50, has been jailed for life for killing her 42-year-old boyfriend Nicholas Billingham, whose partly mummified remains were discovered four-and-a-half months after he was last seen. Picture: SWNS
Fiona Beal, 50, has been jailed for life for killing her 42-year-old boyfriend Nicholas Billingham, whose partly mummified remains were discovered four-and-a-half months after he was last seen. Picture: SWNS

“During December 2021, I heard from family that Nick had left Fiona, moved away from Northampton and was living in Essex with someone called Faye. I remember feeling very surprised to hear this news and felt that it was strange for him to have done that.

“I didn’t know it at the time but this was the start of your deceit to cover up that you had killed Nick – the text messages sent from Nick’s phone, the cruel lies you spread to everyone and all so that you could hide that you had killed Nick.

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“You were exceptionally evil and cruel to send me text messages from my then-murdered son’s phone, convincing me that it was Nick updating me that he had left Northampton, that he was living with another woman and doing a job he loved again.

“You planned it so that these messages would convince me that my son was happy. And it worked and as any mother would be, I was happy in the knowledge that my son was safe and happy.”

Conscious that he had left Beal before Christmas, Ms Valentine said she wanted to ensure she was OK and visited her home on December 23.

She said: “I shouldn’t have been bothered or concerned about you, should I? I remember that the house looked different; the furniture moved, new furniture and ornaments in the front room, which made it look nice.

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“But all of this was you covering up that you had killed my son. You moved the furniture to obscure views to the garden – why? To stop anyone seeing where you had buried my son.

“You sat in your front room with me, having a casual chat with me, having a Christmas drink with me and the whole time, you knew that you had killed my son and buried him only feet from where I was sat.

“I felt sad and embarrassed that my son had left you, but I shouldn’t have wasted my energy and concern on you, you had planned it all and at no point have you ever given me the same consideration or thought about the devastation you caused by killing my son.”

She said Mr Billingham had been her first born and a “beautiful little boy with a cheeky smile” who was loved by family, friends and colleagues. She said: “The loss and emptiness that I feel is unimaginable and so very unreal, it is hard to put words to my feelings.”

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Addressing the defendant, she said: “You are a coward; you killed Nick in his home, on his bed and have never done the decent thing and told us exactly what you did. You are evil. You killed Nick and then spun a web of cruel lies and deceit, even to your own daughter.”

She referred to a journal entry from February 2022 in which Beal said: “I’m not a total monster, I know what I did.”

Ms Valentine said: “Now everyone has heard exactly what you did, they will see you for the evil, total monster you are. When I look back over the past two-and-a-half years since you killed my son, it is with horror and disgust at your evil deception. You planned everything. You were a coward.

She added: “I want you to remember that he will always be loved and that he will always be missed. You are pure evil.”

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