Teenage traveller, 17, named after Rocky Marciano is jailed for life

The teenage traveller who murdered teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck has been jailed for life and will serve at least 16 years behind bars.

The 17-year-old, named after boxing legend Rocky Marciano, strangled the 47-year-old mother-of-two before hiding her in a wheelie bin and burying her naked body in Accrington cemetery, the same place where his grandfather, who shares his name, and other family members are buried. 

Lindsay's body was eventually discovered by a dog walker, wrapped in two plastic bags, on August 24 last year - 12 days after she went missing from home.  

A post-mortem found the mother-of-two, who had been on a walk, died as a result of compression of the neck.

Price, who has an IQ of just 65, previously could not be named for legal reasons as he is under the age of 18, granting him automatic anonymity.

But after he was found guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, reporters today challenged the restriction due to the severity of the crime. Justice Yip has now lifted the order.  

Price was a stranger to Lindsay, with the attack thought to be unprovoked and carried out while he was 'prowling' the area looking for 'lone females'. 

Rocky Marciano Price (pictured) previously could not be named for legal reasons as he is under the age of 18, but reporters in court challenged the anonymity order due to the severity of the crime

Price was captured on CCTV (above) moving Lindsay Birbeck's body in a blue wheelie bin to Accrington Cemetery where it was discovered 12 days later

Rocky Marciano Price (pictured) previously could not be named for legal reasons as he is under the age of 18, but reporters in court challenged the anonymity order due to the severity of the crime

Lindsay Birbeck, 47, from Accrington, Lancashire, was found buried in a shallow grave at the back of Accrington Cemetery in August last year

Lindsay Birbeck, 47, from Accrington, Lancashire, was found buried in a shallow grave at the back of Accrington Cemetery in August last year

He had confessed to burying Lindsay but denied any involvement in her killing, claiming a mystery man had offered him 'a lot of money' to 'get rid' of a body.

The court found no evidence of this mystery man. 

The jury heard he had no previous convictions or cautions and had lived all his life with his parents and five siblings at their home near the cemetery, where the family have lived for 30 years.

It was revealed he was an exceptionally quiet teenager with learning difficulties but he was said to have grown up in a 'supportive family' and his specialist needs were provided for.

He attended a local specialist school after he was diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Price was described by teachers as 'very quiet' and 'pretty much non-verbal', with Timothy Bradley, who taught him for 18 months at The Alternative School, adding he was 'strong for his age'. 

Mr Bradley told the trial: 'He used to enjoy doing art work. We used to do gardening as well with the local community group or help sand down and varnish a bench.

'He is a very strong walker. We did the bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award with him which involves walking 13km and camping for a night and then going for a walk the following morning which he would complete no problem. He was definitely a strong lad for his age.'

His usual response to conversation would be to shrug his shoulders but the school did not have any issues with him and he had never shown any signs of anger or violence, the court was told.

A psychologist assessed Price in 2015 and said he had a 'limited understanding' of his own emotional wellbeing and appeared to have little insight into the link between events and emotions.

Price regularly attended a gym and preferred to be outdoors at school. He enjoyed taking care of chickens on his family's farm, watching films, including Western's, and playing on his Xbox.

He achieved the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze Award and it was hoped he could go on to college and take a course in gardening.

Mrs Birbeck with her son Steven, 20. Mrs Birbeck was reported missing by her family just after midnight on August 13 and police started an investigation into her disappearance

Mrs Birbeck with her son Steven, 20. Mrs Birbeck was reported missing by her family just after midnight on August 13 and police started an investigation into her disappearance

Headteacher Kirsty Swierkowski described how Price's mother Martina was 'desperately worried about her son's ability to cope with the world as he grew up'.

She revealed that Mrs Price was looking at the possibility of him studying landscape gardening at Myerscough College when he left The Alternative School. 

She told the trial:  'There was no drama, no kicking off. He just wouldn't do it. There was no whinging or whining. He's always been a positive pupil in school. I've never had any issues with him.'

The trial also heard from teachers who said Price was well dressed and well presented at school and wasn't 'motivated' by money, unlike some of his school peers.

Mrs Swierkowski said she was first alerted to the CCTV footage of Price with the wheelie bin by another staff member on August 27.  

She described Price him as 'being open to exploitation' due to his 'vulnerabilities' and told police: 'Rocky has never caused us any issues which is why this has come as a shock.

'When I was first made aware of this my initial reaction was that he could be asked to do something and he would do it without question.

Prior to her murder, Mrs Birbeck had left her home in for a late afternoon walk to a nearby wooded area known as the Coppice. Pictured: The last CCTV sighting of Ms Birbeck before she was murdered

Prior to her murder, Mrs Birbeck had left her home in for a late afternoon walk to a nearby wooded area known as the Coppice. Pictured: The last CCTV sighting of Ms Birbeck before she was murdered

'He is somebody who will either do something or not do something but he might not necessarily question what he is being asked to do.'

Speaking today, Justice Yip said: 'The murder was a truly shocking event. This was a dreadful crime which generated strong public interest. 

Who is Rocky Marciano?

Price was named after boxer Rocky Marciano, an American fighter who held the world heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956

Price was named after boxer Rocky Marciano, an American fighter who held the world heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956

The 17-year-old murderer was named after boxing champion Rocky Marciano who is considered one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Mr Marciano was born and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and had an underwhelming amateur record of 8-4.

But a is the case for many fighters he excelled in the professional ranks after winning his first fight in 1948.

His most famous victory was against Joe Walcott in 1952 where he became world champion. He was known for his fearsome power and ability to knock opponents out.

Marciano went on to accrue an impressive record of 49 wins, with 43 of them coming by knock out. 

He is considered by boxing historians to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, and debate rages to this day on if he would have beaten the great Muhammed Ali. 

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'The public naturally wish to know who this person was as they come to terms with something that rocked the local community.

'The defendant's photograph was already placed in the public domain [as part of a CCTV appeal]. I consider it inconceivable anybody who would wish him ill-harm would not discovery his identity.

'The wider public are likely to want to know his identity and background with a view to making sense of how such a young person could do something so dreadful. 

'There is a strong public interest in full and unrestricted reporting of what is plainly an exceptional case. The real public interest exists now at the time of conviction and sentence.

'Continuing reporting restrictions would substantially and considerably restrict the freedom of the press.' 

The teenager - named after unbeaten heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano - is

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