Fiona Beal, 49, allegedly stabbed Nicholas Billingham, 42, in the neck in the bedroom of their home in Northampton on November 1, 2021, after telling her head she had Covid and needed to isolate.

The town’s crown court has heard she had already hatched a plan to kill him and penned a ‘chilling’ confession detailing her belief he was cheating on her again.

After the killing, she tied up and wrapped his body, buried it in the garden, and painted and cleaned the bedroom where it took place.

She is then alleged to have told people Billingham had left her for another woman and used his phone to send messages to friends and work colleagues, pretending he was still alive.

Last week, the jury was shown footage taken from a hardware store at Nene Valley Retail Park 12 days after the alleged murder.

It shows Beal entering and leaving the store, as well as being assisted by a member of staff with two trollies carrying bags of compost and stones, and a light-coloured plastic planter.

The trial has been told Billingham’s remains were found wrapped in carpet, buried under bark chippings, soil, wooden sheeting, concrete building blocks, bricks and planks.

Plastic bags, rubble, mortar, polystyrene, laminate flooring and sections of fabric and vinyl were also recovered from a ‘built structure’ hiding the body.

A pathologist concluded that the cause of Billingham’s death was a single stab wound to the right-hand side of his neck, which cut through the jugular vein.

Records showed Beal, who worked at Northampton’s Eastfield Academy as a Year 6 teacher, was absent from work between November 1 and November 12.

The jury was told Beal’s headteacher had been in regular contact with the defendant during her period of ‘Covid sickness’ and that when she returned to work she said her partner had left her, but there were no concerns about her work.

After going on a school trip to London in late February, Beal sent her headteacher another message saying she was ill.

She was subsequently traced by police to Cumbria, where she had checked into the lodge on March 6 last year.

On March 15, the court was told, police attended the lodge after being contacted by a concerned family member and found an apparent suicide note and a notebook.

Beal was admitted to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where officers read the notebook and formed the opinion that the defendant had killed her ex-partner.

The notebook, part of which was read to the jury by Perian, contained a reference to the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.

It read: ‘Everything changed last year. There’s a quote from “Thelma and Louise” that feels appropriate, “Thelma: “You be sweet to them, especially your wife. My husband wasn’t sweet to me.”

‘I suppose I ought to explain what happened to get me to this point. My mental health had been deteriorating. Whenever he was cheating he would up the ante on belittling, moaning and criticising.

‘I have to confess. Ok here goes. October 2021. He spat on me and threatened me during sex. I thought about leaving but the things he said and did fuelled my dark side – I call her Tulip22, she’s reckless, fearless and efficient. Ruthless.

‘I started plotting as Tulip22 after he’d gone to bed. I could no longer sleep in the bed due to my breathing being too loud or I moved too much or I was snoring or etc etc.’

The court heard the notebook entry, which referred to 17 years of ‘him’ being argumentative, mean, cruel and belittling, continued: ‘I knew I couldn’t let him get away with it. Halloween sealed it. He was vile.

‘That night I planned. Covid rules meant I had a guaranteed 10-day isolation period from positive symptoms.

‘I called (Beal’s headteacher) on the Monday and said we’d tested positive and had symptoms. He went to work. Tulip22 smoked and planned. I’d planned it mentally so many times before.

‘I had a bath. I left the water in. I encouraged the bath with the incentive of sex afterwards.

‘While he was in the bath I kept the knife in my dressing gown pocket and then hid it in the drawer next to the bed. I brought a chisel, bin bag and cable ties up too.

‘I got him to wear an eye mask. It was harder than I thought it would be. Hiding a body was bad. Moving a body is much more difficult than it looks on TV.’

Beal’s barrister, Andrew Wheeler KC, has told the court she would argue she was mentally ‘broken’ at the time of the killing and is guilty of manslaughter but not murder.

In an opening address to the jury after the prosecution had outlined its case, Mr Wheeler told the court: ‘We submit that, in fact, this case is not as straightforward as the prosecution suggest.

‘Ms Beal is 49 years of age. She is a lady of good character, a partner to Nick Billingham for some 17 years, a hard-working and a thoroughly liked school teacher… in essence a lady about whom you will hear many good things as you listen to the evidence.’

Arguing that Beal is guilty of manslaughter but not murder, Mr Wheeler added: ‘How does that person go on to kill?

‘There is no dispute in this case that she unlawfully killed Nicholas Billingham. What this case is really about is her state of mind.

‘You will hear that she has, over the years, struggled with her mental health.’

Alleging that Beal had been in a coercive relationship with Billingham, Wheeler continued: ‘What was the catalyst that led to these tragic circumstances?

‘Her actions and her thoughts were manipulated. He was, as you will hear, psychologically domineering and, over the years, wore her down.

‘Over the years, we submit to you, she was worn down until she was quite literally broken. Fiona Beal is unable to recall many of the details of the actual act itself.’

Addressing what Beal had written in a notebook the prosecution claim shows she knew what she doing, Mr Wheeler went on: ‘The notes, the scribblings, are clear evidence of a disturbed mind.’

The trial is ongoing.

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