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A ‘cheating’ boyfriend who was stabbed to death a by primary school teacher wrote letters asking her for forgiveness, telling her she was ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and he ‘wanted a chance’, Northampton Crown Court heard. 

Fiona Beal, 49, has gone on trial accused of murdering her long term partner Nicholas Billingham, 42, after discovering he was having an affair.

A court heard she stabbed him in the neck after luring him to bed for sex and blindfolding him, using a knife she had hidden in her dressing gown on November 1, 2021.

Beal then buried her boyfriend in the back garden of their home in Northampton beneath a pile of bark and soil and wrapped in bin bags, sheets and cable ties, the court heard.

Mr Billingham’s mummified remains were discovered at the property in Northampton four months later with an eye mask on that read: ‘This is my morning after face’. 

Fiona Beal (left), 48, is accused of luring Nicholas Billingham (right), 42, to bed for sex before blindfolding him and stabbing him in the neck

Fiona Beal (left), 48, is accused of luring Nicholas Billingham (right), 42, to bed for sex before blindfolding him and stabbing him in the neck

Nicholas had previously written to Beal asking for forgiveness and told her she was ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and ‘all he wanted was a chance’.

He also spoke of his desire to marry her and spend their rest of their lives together but revealed Beal had told him ‘I can’t ever see us getting old together.’

This afternoon DC Donna Flemming read out letters from Nicholas sent to Beal which were found in the attic of their home in Northampton.

In the letters, Nicholas describes his partner as ‘kind-hearted’, ‘perfect’ and ‘generous’ adding ‘if there were more people like you around the world would be a better place’.

He wrote: ‘Dear Fiona you are probably going to read things in this letter that I have said to you before.

‘You are the most beautiful woman in the world, let’s get that straight.

‘You are so kindhearted in every single way and if there were more people like you around the world would be a better place.

‘You are also generous and often consider others before yourself.’

Mr Billingham's mummified remains were discovered at the property in Northampton four months later with an eye mask on that read: 'This is my morning after face'

Mr Billingham’s mummified remains were discovered at the property in Northampton four months later with an eye mask on that read: ‘This is my morning after face’

‘I know in the past that I have been awkward and that you have not said anything just to save an argument.

‘I promise to never again belittle you or make you feel rubbish again.

‘Did I ever make you think that you weren’t the perfect woman for me? There are so many things I miss about you.’

He proceeded to list everything he missed about Beal, the letter wrote: ‘I miss caring for you. I miss cooking for you and actually seeing that you’re okay. I miss waking up with you and falling asleep with you. I miss relaxing with you, watching films with you and cuddling you, holding you tight with my strong arms.

‘I hope with my heart there are some things about me that you miss.

‘I think that you still love me but there is zero trust. I don’t want timeframes or percentage’s, all I want is a chance.

‘I don’t deserve and I hope you can find in your big loving heart to give me that opportunity.

‘It has taken numerous times and lots of ups and downs. I Nick Billingham do solemnly swear – I no longer doubt or question my love to you.

‘I have always felt so lucky to have you in my life and all I dream is to have that again.

‘You said a while ago ‘I can’t ever see us getting old together’ but I can and I want that so much with you as my wife.’

Forensic officers at the scene in Moore Street, Kingsley, Northampton, after the body was discovered last year

Forensic officers at the scene in Moore Street, Kingsley, Northampton, after the body was discovered last year

In another letter read to jurors, Nicholas claims he was a changed man not capable of making ‘rash, wrong decisions’ and lists how he’s improved.

It read: ‘Reasons for Fiona to trust me more so than before.

‘I am able to take time and think about my actions and words before acting thus not letting myself make a rash, wrong decisions. I know that with any future issues we must talk to each other like adults and individuals. I am no longer that person from before. Because of my coaching and guidance my clarity and realisation is fully clear.

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‘Reasons I would like to live with you again: I love and savour every second we spend together. To love, care and respect you.

The letter added: ‘It’s you I want. We are just existing, let’s just live life as we are only here once.

‘What do I to build trust with Fiona: Honesty, loyalty, know and be at one with myself, authenticity, know my intentions, show my intentions, do what I say I will do, earn it!!!, keep my promises, be sincere, don’t judge her/respect her. ‘

Police previously traced her to a holiday cottage in the Lake District after she had attempted suicide and discovered a ‘chilling’ journal which plotted the murder, jurors heard.

In the diary she described how she had killed an unnamed person under her dark alter-ego ‘Tulip22’, who she described as ‘reckless, fearless and efficient’, after finally reaching ‘breaking point’.

On the fourth day of her trial at Northampton Crown Court, jurors were read further extracts from the Year 6 teacher’s journals.

In them, she described her boyfriend as an ‘unlikeable person’ and that ‘no one would’ve looked for him’ after he died as ‘no one seemed bothered’.

Beal also spoke of the guilt which had been ‘strangling’ her and added: ‘I am sorry I didn’t leave him….I am sorry I am weak. I am sorry for what I did’.

But she also wrote that ‘no ghosts had haunted her’ and that her ‘move from passive victim’ had reminded her of the 1991 film Thelma and Louise.

Detective Constable Donna Flemming, investigating officer for Northamptonshire Police, read the extracts to jurors, in which Beal wrote: ‘Reading back I haven’t gone into this too much as my guilt strangles me.

The court heard that Beal wrote in her diary she was 'sorry for what she did' but insisted 'I'm not a monster'. Pictured: Forensics at the scene in Moore Street, Kingsley, in March last year

The court heard that Beal wrote in her diary she was ‘sorry for what she did’ but insisted ‘I’m not a monster’. Pictured: Forensics at the scene in Moore Street, Kingsley, in March last year

‘I am sorry I didn’t leave him. I am sorry I let him rip my self-esteem and self-worth apart. I am sorry I am weak. I am sorry for what I did.

‘Yes I am alive currently but it’s more like a waiting room. People will blame my mental health. I should have/could have .. fixed myself.

‘Do I regret what I did? Of course I do, I’m not a monster. It had been building up for so long.

‘The funny thing is that he was such an unlikeable person. I only had to send a few texts, no one seemed bothered. I don’t think anyone would have looked for him.’

Another passage read to jurors said: ‘When it happened I really wanted to call dad, I’m scared to call mum. I didn’t want my last memory of her to be disappointed.

‘I think I’m nearly ready. I will choose a movie and have a bath soon. I will do my hair and makeup and ignore all my flaws. No one would know what I did.

‘I spend my days in the grey and in the black. People are mad, miserable and joyless.

‘I noticed the sad miserable joyless people more than the living. I noticed the mum shouting at her kids and the man abusing his girlfriend.

‘Negative monologue has been nurtured by him. ‘Ugly, physically unattractive, knocked in the head’.

‘Everyone has a negative internal monologue, mine is just dominant.’

In another notebook, Beal documented the days in the run up to her suicide attempt in the Lake District, comparing the sky to the domed sky in film The Truman Show.

She writes: ‘The sky is beautiful, big northern sky. I saw a shooting star and made a wish.

‘Know the purpose and audience of what you write is what I teach.

‘No one knows where I am, I booked this lodge for ten days, that was all it took in November. Surely 10 days would be enough.

‘It’s taken me nearly five zoots and wine to come close to calming me.

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‘I can’t recall much of the journey here, a man and his son told me my passenger side brake light was out.

‘I’m already deciding on alarms in my head. Okay currently it is 1.20am, kind of want to sleep, kind of don’t.’

Another passage read: ‘Much of the journey is a blur, the actual drive I mean.

‘I realised there is only one other option that will see me locked up, prolonging my existence.

‘I do think I am unlucky. He better be good at answering my questions.

‘I have set up home here in the lodge.

‘The sky is twinkling, Truman Show-esque. A little too sparkling and perfect. Still my actions haunt me.

‘These are my last days on earth, I’m not particularly worried about dying.

‘I cannot go home, if I do I will be arrested and back in the grey world. The grey world is cruel, work is overwhelming and my mind goes to the dark places.’

The court was told in a final journal that police pieced together after it was found torn up in Beal’s car, she wrote about thinking she ‘might get away with it’.

She put: ‘I thought for a while that I might get away with it, I thought I could too.

‘My thoughts will be rambled, weed, mental illness take your pick, I just need to put things down.

‘Which brings me to god and the supernatural. I have clearly done very bad things and good things. I believe we are no different animals.

‘No ghosts have haunted me, no visions, no difficulty sleeping. My move from passive victim and stand up reminds me of Thelma and Louise.’

Pathologist Dr Frances Hollingbury also gave evidence, claiming that Beal would have had to use ‘moderate to severe force’ to kill her partner.

Dr Hollingbury also suggested that Nicholas would have been conscious and breathing for a few minutes following the attack.

He told the court: ‘Before I could examine Mr Billingham’s body I had to remove a number of items.

‘Having removed these coverings, I identified a yellow and grey fabric sheet. He was wearing a blue striped dressing gown and had a sleep mask over his eye.

‘There was some text printed on the inside aspect of the mask which read ‘This is my morning after face’.’

Dr Hollingbury said the stab wound was roughly 3.7cm in length and that there were no signs that Mr Billingham had put up a fight.

She added: ‘This was a stab wound to the right-hand side base of the neck.

‘It passed through the area where all the major nerves are in the neck and almost completely transcended the right jugular.

‘Although I can’t pinpoint exactly when Mr Billingham died, the level of decomposition would be in keeping with him dying several months prior.

‘The injury to this major vein would’ve bled readily but that does not cause you to immediately collapse.

‘So his heart would’ve continued beating and his brain would’ve continued functioning until he’s a lost enough blood from that injury to cause compromise to his systems.

‘He’ll have been able to walk, talk, run and scream. There’s no reason that it stopped him from act or react in the minutes after this injury was sustained.’

Nicholas had previously written to Beal asking for forgiveness and told her she was ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ and ‘all he wanted was a chance’.

He also spoke of his desire to marry her and spend their rest of their lives together but revealed Beal had told him ‘I can’t ever see us getting old together.’

This afternoon, DC Donna Flemming read out letters from Nicholas sent to Beal which were found in the attic of their home in Northampton.

In the letters, Nicholas describes his partner as ‘kind-hearted’, ‘perfect’ and ‘generous’ adding ‘if there were more people like you around the world would be a better place’.

He wrote: ‘Dear Fiona you are probably going to read things in this letter that I have said to you before.

‘You are the most beautiful woman in the world, let’s get that straight.

‘You are so kindhearted in every single way and if there were more people like you around the world would be a better place.

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‘You are also generous and often consider others before yourself.

‘I know in the past that I have been awkward and that you have not said anything just to save an argument.

‘I promise to never again belittle you or make you feel rubbish again.

‘Did I ever make you think that you weren’t the perfect woman for me? There are so many things I miss about you.

‘I miss caring for you. I miss cooking for you and actually seeing that you’re okay. I miss waking up with you and falling asleep with you.

‘I miss relaxing with you, watching films with you and cuddling you, holding you tight with my strong arms.

‘I hope with my heart there are some things about me that you miss.

‘I think that you still love me but there is zero trust. I don’t want timeframes or percentage’s, all I want is a chance.

‘I don’t deserve and I hope you can find in your big loving heart to give me that opportunity.

‘It has taken numerous times and lots of ups and downs. I Nick Billingham do solemnly swear – I no longer doubt or question my love to you.

‘I have always felt so lucky to have you in my life and all I dream is to have that again.

‘You said a while ago ‘I can’t ever see us getting old together’ but I can and I want that so much with you as my wife.’

In another letter read to jurors, Nicholas claims he was a changed man not capable of making ‘rash, wrong decisions’ and lists how he’s improved.

It read: ‘Reasons for Fiona to trust me more so than before.

‘I am able to take time and think about my actions and words before acting thus not letting myself make a rash, wrong decisions.

‘I know that with any future issues we must talk to each other like adults and individuals.

‘I am no longer that person from before. Because of my coaching and guidance my clarity and realisation is fully clear.

‘Reasons I would like to live with you again: I love and savour every second we spend together. To love, care and respect you.

‘It’s you I want. We are just existing, let’s just live life as we are only here once.

‘What do I to build trust with Fiona: Honesty, loyalty, know and be at one with myself, authenticity, know my intentions, show my intentions, do what I say I will do, earn it!!!, keep my promises, be sincere, don’t judge her/respect her. ‘

The court previously heard how Cumbria Police discovered Beal motionless in a bath after being called out to a welfare check.

Officers had attended the lodge Beal was renting just four days earlier after she was reported missing from her home over 200 miles away.

Police said she appeared ‘relaxed’ and ‘chatted freely’, telling them to inform her family she was safe and well.

But during the second visit after her family raised further concerns for her safety, PC Josh Parkin found Beal seriously injured lying naked in a bloody bath.

Giving evidence, the officer described how ‘sinister’ music was playing from her mobile phone and that he originally believed she was dead.

PC Parkin said: ‘I saw a female laying in the bath completely naked. It looked like bodily fluids in the bath leading me to believe the individual was deceased.

‘What I would describe as sinister acoustic music was playing from a mobile phone that was next to her.

‘I immediately requested an ambulance to attend our location. I suggested that we tried to get her out of the bath to perform CPR.’

Nicholas’ body was found buried beneath paving slabs, building blocks and mortar topped with bark chippings and soil.

Beal was said to have repainted and cleaned the walls of the couple’s bedroom and used Nicholas’ phone to pretend he was still alive.

She admits unlawfully killing Nicholas but denies murder on the grounds of her mental state at the time.

The trial continues.

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