- Fiona Beal, a teacher at primary school, is on trial for the murder of her long-term partner, Nicholas Billingham.
- The prosecution claims that Beal stabbed Billingham in the neck in November 2021 and then hid the knife in a drawer.
- His body was later found buried in the back garden of their home in Northampton.
- Beal denies murder, and the trial continues.
The prosecution claims that Beal stabbed Billingham in the neck in November 2021 and then hid the knife in a drawer.
His body was later found buried in the back garden of their home in Northampton. The defense, however, argues that Beal was mentally “broken” at the time of the killing due to years of coercive behavior from Billingham.
In the opening address to the jury, Beal’s barrister, KC Andrew Wheeler, argued that there was no dispute that Beal had unlawfully killed Billingham.
However, he claimed the case was more complex than the prosecution suggested.
He described Beal as a lady of good character who had been in a 17-year-long relationship with Billingham.
She was a hard-working and well-liked school teacher, and her mental health deteriorated.
Wheeler argued that Beal was guilty of manslaughter but not murder and that the case was about her state of mind.
He alleged that Beal had been in a crack-the-whip relationship with Billingham, who was psychologically domineering and had worn her down over the years.
Wheeler claimed that Beal was broken by the time of the killing and unable to recall many details of the act itself.
The prosecution had found a notebook written by Beal, which they claimed showed that she knew what she was doing when she killed Billingham.
Wheeler argued that the notes were clear evidence of a disturbed mind. He also addressed phone messages that Beal had sent to Billingham’s mother, which the prosecution claimed demonstrated that she was cunning, cruel, deceptive, and devious.
Coercive behavior is a criminal offense in the UK, and the defense uses it to argue that Beal’s mental state was affected by years of abuse from Billingham.
The prosecution, however, maintains that Beal was fully aware of what she was doing when she killed Billingham, as evidenced by her notebook and phone messages.
Beal denies murder, and the trial continues.