Ian Stewart murder trial: ‘Death of Royston author Helen Bailey was a cold-blooded financially motivated killing after partner repeatedly drugged her’
- Credit: Archant
The death of Royston author Helen Bailey at the hands of her partner Ian Stewart was a cold-blooded financially motivated murder, St Albans Crown Court heard on the first day of the trial.
Ms Bailey’s body was found in a cesspit under the garage at their Baldock Road home in July 2016, three months after she was reported missing by Mr Stewart on April 11. Her seven-year-old dachshund Boris was also in the excrement-filled pit, as was a dog’s toy and pillow slip.
Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC told the jury this afternoon how that day Mr Stewart had drugged his partner, suffocated her at about 11am and dumped her body in the secret cesspit.
The court heard how the 56-year-old was later seen taking a ‘large white object, probably a duvet’ to Royston Waste and Recycling Centre.
Mr Stewart – originally from Letchworth – denies murder, preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body, fraud and three counts of perverting the course of justice.
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He reported Ms Bailey missing on April 15, four days after he is alleged to have killed her, claiming the 51-year-old had left a note saying she needed space and went to her holiday home in Broadstairs, Kent.
Mr Stewart kept her phone and refused to give his own phone to the police during their enquires, saying that if Helen was going to contact him she would do so on his phone. And the court heard that when officers arranged for a replacement phone to be given to him, he said he had lost his own mobile.
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In the weeks leading up to her death, Ms Bailey had become worried about her behaviour and constant need for sleep.
She had been searching online for ‘falling asleep in the afternoon’ and ‘can’t stop falling asleep’. The post mortem revealed traces of insomnia medication Zopiclone were found in her chest cavity fluid, liver and muscle tissue.
Mr Stewart had been prescribed the medication for himself around the point the drug was shown to have entered Ms Bailey’s body, around February 2016, and was administered in ‘increasing concentrations’ to Ms Bailey unbeknown to her in the following weeks.
The jury of nine men and five women, who are due to be whittled down to a final 12 tomorrow, heard that she was becoming increasingly worried for her own state of mind. There was an occasion where she left dog Boris – who she was ‘devoted to’ – on the beach in Broadstairs, and she told her brother John Bailey and mother Eileen, who both put it down to stress.
Another incident recalled was one where she said she made poached eggs, and woke up five hours later.
The prosecution said that Mr Stewart’s motivation for murder was money. Ms Bailey was a successful author of teenage fiction and was worth more than £4 million. The home, where she and Mr Stewart lived for three of the four years they were together, was worth £1.5m.
Ms Bailey’s bank account was accessed at 2.30pm from the defendant’s Windows 10 computer, and he transferred £4,000 from her account to his – shown in a fragment of data by police when the computer was recovered.
Ms Bailey made a will in 2014 as she had concerns Mr Stewart, who she was engaged to be married to, would be financially vulnerable if she died.
Mr Stewart, who sat in the dock wearing a blue jumper and jeans, twice asked to see the will during the time she was considered ‘missing’.
He was arrested just after 7am on July, 11, four days before the body was discovered. His response, as seen on officers’ body cams, was “Bloody hell, why?”
He then said: “Have you found her? Where is she? I don’t know why the garage door is open.”
The cesspit, which used to be a well, was hidden beneath the garage and the court was told Mr Stewart moved Ms Bailey’s car on top of the pit, so it would not be discovered. The court heard that only when he realised the garage would be the focus of the investigation did he begin to express concern.
The jury were told they would be taken to the home of Ms Bailey and Mr Stewart on Friday.
The trial, expected to last six weeks, continues.