The fiancé of Helen Bailey has been found guilty of murdering the author and dumping her in a cesspit underneath her £1.2m home in calculated plot to inherit her millions.
Ian Stewart, 56, showed no reaction as he was found guilty of murder, preventing a lawful burial, fraud and three counts of perverting the course of justice following a six-week trial at St Albans Crown Court.
The former software engineer seduced Ms Bailey months after the death of her husband John Sinfield in a drowning accident in Barbados in 2011.
He quickly worked his way into her home – and later her will – as part of what prosecutors described as a ‘love-bombing campaign’ which saw the author become ‘besotted’ with him.
The remains of Helen Bailey was discovered three months after her disappearance in the cesspit in her own home, buried along with her dog
Tragically, in her final book – about the death of her husband – Ms Bailey repeatedly referred to Stewart as “GGHW” – the Gorgeous, Grey-Haired Widower.
But she had no knowledge that in the months before her death he was secretly ‘stupefying’ her with sleeping drug Zopiclone.
On April 11, Stewart suffocated the 52-year-old and dumped her body in a cesspit underneath the home they shared in Royston, Hertfordshire.
Ian Stewart is seen on camera drive up and take items to the dumpster shortly after the murder. Some of the items had blood on them
On the day of the killing, Stewart visited solicitor Timothy Penn, who was handling the sale of a £185,000 property owned by Helen in Northumberland.
He told the solicitor that Helen was “unwell” and made the first of several attempts to force through the sale in her absence.
Stewart also boosted a standing order to his own account from £600 to £4,000 the same afternoon.
as he’s seen here drive to a garbage tip to dispose of incriminating material
At the her disappearance, the author was said to have had assets worth £3,326,316.
Stewart was in line to gain two homes, enough cash to ensure a “very comfortable” lifestyle, and pension and life insurance payments from his fiance.
The next day, he told family Helen had gone to her holiday home in Broadstairs, Kent, after leaving him a note saying she ‘needed some space’.
He repeated the lie when he called police three days later to report Helen missing.
He told “She said, she said in a note, something like I need space and time alone, I’m going to Broadstairs, please don’t contact me in any way.
“She left her car here. But she did take her dog with her. She’s got a little dachshund.”
in the death of Helen Bailey
In the following weeks, Stewart continued to play the role of distressed partner but officers became increasingly suspicious over his behaviour.
The killer had parked a Jeep over where officers would later find Helen’s body and jumpily told officers “you won’t find anything in the garage” after they asked to search the couple’s home.
Detective Constable Hollie Daines said Stewart “became upset” when they asked to search the house and “did not consent to the search taking place.”
She said: “He started to ask a lot of questions, specifically what we were going to be searching for.
The remains of the victim and her dog was eventually found in a cesspit underneath the garage
“He said he was getting fed up with all this now. We explained again the reasons why we wanted to search the house, and he said ‘you keep saying it’s the last time’.
“He became upset, his breathing increased and he began rubbing his forehead. He appeared to be anxious and uncomfortable with what we were asking of him.
“He went on to say that ‘you won’t find anything in the garage, if anywhere, devices will be in the house’.”
The 55-year-old stunned neighbours by jetting off on a two-week luxury holiday to Majorca as fears continued to grow for the much-loved children’s author.
Jurors were shown laser imaging of the tank Inside the cesspit where Helen Baily’s body was found3-D imaging of the tank which went several feet underground
But as Stewart distanced himself from the web of deceit he’d created back home, detectives were piecing together his money-grabbing murder plot – and were ready to swoop when he returned on July 11.
He greeted officers warmly as he made his way down the stairs of the £1.2m Hertfordshire mansion, little knowing the net had finally closed in on him.
“You’re joking”, he responded, taking a step back as he was told he was being arrested on suspicion of murder.
Stewart shrugged, ran his hands through his ruffled hair and glanced around the room in apparent shock as his crimes were read out to him.
After sitting down on the bottom step, he continued to feign the disbelief and concern for his partner’s safety which would become the cornerstone of his “absurd” defence.
He said: “Bloody hell, why?… Why? I don’t understand… What’s happened? Have you found her? Where is she?”
But the former software engineer’s demeanor quickly changed as he was taken to the Police Station for questioning.
Stewart sat in silence with one arm on the table and another thrown back over his chair during five hours of questioning.
After being charged with murder, Stewart embarked on a fantastical change of alibi.
He claimed two kidnappers – named ‘Nick’ and ‘Joe’ – had abducted the children’s author in a plot he had been too scared to tell police about previously.
Stewart said the “rude and aggressive” men had first turned up at their house a month before Helen’s death and returned on the day of Helen’s murder.
Initially uncooperative: Stewart refused to speak to cops during the five hours interrogation
He claimed he was punched to the ground by ‘Nick’ and told to tell anyone who asked Helen had gone to Broadstairs.
Incredibly, he also told the court he had spoken to Helen four days later – on the day he reported her missing.
He said Nick returned to the house and handed him a mobile phone, before Helen told him: “I love you. Sorry about everything”.
The murder suspect described Joe as being aged around 65, with olive skin, a foreign accent, “sunken cheeks” and short, smart grey hair.
Nick was said to be a “large, wide man” in his late 50s, slightly taller than Joe, with short black hair, tattoos on his neck and a London accent.
But the half-baked alibi was embarrassingly exposed at St Albans Crown Court when two men known to Stewart – neighbour Nick Cook and bowls player Joe Cippullo – were presented to the court.