Man found guilty and jailed for author's murder - Royston

23/02/2017

The fiancé of author Helen Bailey appeared at St Albans Crown Court today, Thursday, 23 February 2017, and was jailed for life, and is to serve a minimum of 34 years' imprisonment, for her murder.

Ian Stewart, aged 56, from Baldock Road, Royston, was sentenced today after being found guilty of the murder, and other offences, yesterday, Wednesday, 22 February 2017, at St Albans Crown Court, following a seven-week trial.

 In addition to being found guilty of murder, Stewart was also found guilty of fraud, preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body and three counts of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. The fraud conviction concerned his altering of a standing order that had been set up to pay £600 a month from Helen's Barclays bank account to a joint Santander account. After murdering Helen, Stewart had altered the figure to £4,000. The three offences of perverting the course of justice concerned his disposal of bedclothes, his false account that she had gone missing and persisting in that account to the police, as well as taking part in searches for the writer. He had also disposed of Helen's phone following the killing.

 On Friday, 15 April 2016, Stewart reported Helen, aged 51, his partner of four years, as missing from their Royston home. The pair had lived in the house since 2013. He claimed Helen had left a note on Monday, 11 April 2016, to say she needed some time away and had gone to her property in Broadstairs, Kent. Following his report to police, a large-scale operation to find Helen was launched, which attracted significant local and national press coverage. During the trial, Stewart admitted the said note never existed.

 St Albans Crown Court heard how Helen had been concerned, in the weeks before her death, that she was feeling unusually sleepy. Stewart had been giving her increasing amounts of a sleeping drug, Zopiclone, which had been prescribed to him in the January. There is no evidence to show Helen had ever been prescribed this drug herself, but it was detected in her body and hair. In the time leading up to her death, Helen had made a number of searches on the internet asking; why do I keep falling asleep, falling asleep in the afternoon, and can't stop falling asleep.

 It is believed Stewart killed Helen Bailey on 11 April 2016, and hid her body in a cesspit in the grounds of their home. This was a bricked over well, which was over a hundred years old and is located under a concrete floor of the garage with a small manhole opening. Stewart had parked a car over the small entrance and never mentioned its existence to officers. Subsequently, that day (11 April) Stewart took a duvet and boxes to the tip and, in the evening, went to watch his son play bowls and got a Chinese takeaway.

 Stewart sent texts to Helen's phone and emailed her, as though she had gone missing, when he was in fact in possession of her phone. He substantially altered a standing order from her account to their joint account, booked snooker tickets with her credit card, and went on a holiday to Spain, which they had booked together.

 Helen's body was eventually located, along with the body of her dog Boris, on 15 July 2016, and, following a painstaking operation, was recovered the following day.

 Charles White, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the untimely death of 51-year-old Helen Bailey in Royston last April.

 "On Friday, 15 April 2016, Ian Stewart, under pressure from others who were concerned for her welfare, reported to police that Helen, his fiancée, was missing. He told police that he had received a note from Helen saying she had gone to her property in Broadstairs with her dog, Boris, as she needed space and time and did not want to be contacted.  In reality, he had already drugged her over a period of time with sleeping tablets, prescribed to himself for insomnia, suffocated her once she was sufficiently sedated, and disposed of her body in the cesspit, buried in the ground under the garage, with Boris, who he had also killed. There is no evidence to suggest that Helen was alive beyond 11 April 2016.

 "Helen's body lay undiscovered in the cesspit for 3-months until 15 July 2016. During this time, Stewart continued to live at the home he had shared with Helen and sat back and watched the police conduct a futile missing person investigation.  In a cynical charade he sent her text messages and emails telling her he loved and missed her.  He even parked a car over the access shaft to the cesspit to ensure that Helen's body would not be found, tried to expedite the sale of a property she owned, pursued the grant of a Power of Attorney over her affairs, and went on holiday to Spain in the June, before she had been found.

 "Stewart was linked to Helen's disappearance by mobile phone and computer evidence and CCTV.  The motive for the killing is believed to be a combination of greed and other psychological factors. Stewart was the primary beneficiary, under a discretionary trust set up in her most recent Will and stood to acquire property, savings and pension funds. Stewart is clearly a cold hearted, deceitful and calculated man.

 "Stewart obstructed the police investigation, pledged support to a national press campaign to find Helen, attended a dog walk on Royston Heath in support of the 'Where is Helen Bailey?' campaign organised by her friends, paid for posters, which were created and distributed, and vehemently denied any involvement in, or responsibility for, Helen's death for 3-months, during extensive police interviews before and after his arrest.  He was found guilty of Helen's murder despite his denials.

 "This case represents a tragedy for Helen's family and friends who have been devastated by her death. I would like to pay tribute to them for their wholehearted support of the investigation and prosecution and the dignity they displayed while hearing the horrific details surrounding Helen's murder.

 "We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.  We know that nothing will bring Helen back to her family and friends, but we hope that yesterday's conviction and today's sentence brings them at least a small sense that justice has been done.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

 Detective Chief Inspector Jerome Kent from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, who led the murder investigation said: "Ian Stewart is a cold and calculated man who is clearly extremely manipulative. Not only did he kill Helen he placed her body and that of her beloved dog Boris in a cesspit. These are the actions of a truly wicked man. I am sure there was a significant level of pre-planning by Ian Stewart whose main motivation was money.

 "Since his report to police on 15 April that Helen was missing, he has told a significant number of lies to her family and friends, his own family and to police and continued those lies when he gave evidence in court.

 "I would like to thank Helen's family who have remained dignified throughout despite Ian Stewart's elaborate story and continuing charade. He allowed Helen no dignity and whilst the right decision has been made by the jury, I am sure this will be of little comfort to Helen's loved ones. Our thoughts remain with them, Ian Stewart's family and Helen's friends."