Thursday, 23 February 2017

Ian Stewart jailed for at least 34 years for Helen Bailey's murder



The fiance of Helen Bailey has been jailed for 34 years for drugging and killing the author in a plot to inherit her fortune.
 
Ian Stewart, 56, spent weeks poisoning the 51-year-old Electra Brown writer with prescription sedatives before smothering her in a "heinous" plot motivated by greed in April 2016.


Ms Bailey was dragged into a cesspit below the couple's luxury home in Royston, Hertfordshire, where she remained hidden for three months.


Her devoted dachshund, Boris, was found dead at her side.


Following a seven-week trial at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Andrew Bright sentenced the computer expert, who refused to attend the hearing, to life with a minimum term of 34 years.


The judge told Stewart: "Whilst we will never know whether you may have had some additional motive for killing the woman who loved you and wanted to be your wife, I am in no doubt this is a clear case of a murder done in the expectation of gain with aggravating features which make it difficult to imagine a more heinous crime."


He added: "I am satisfied that your principal motive for killing her was to enable you to take advantage of the generous provision she had made for you in the event of her death, which you knew the law would presume after she had remained a missing person for long enough."


The world "has lost a gifted author", the judge continued, "and her family and friends will have to live the rest of their lives with the deep sense of loss your wicked crime has inflicted upon them".


However, Judge Bright said he felt the offence was not serious enough to justify a whole-life sentence.
 
 
The jury found Stewart guilty in a unanimous verdict of murder, fraud, preventing a lawful burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice.


He is likely to "end his days behind bars" due to a range of health problems which have afflicted him for decades, his defence counsel said on Wednesday.


Stewart lied for months about the disappearance of his bride-to-be, whom he claimed had left suddenly for "space".


His deceit culminated with a tale of a kidnap plot by two men named Nick and Joe, whom he blamed for Ms Bailey's death.


Stewart first met the vulnerable widow on a Facebook group for bereaved people in 2011.


He showered her with affection to win his way into her trust, and later her multimillion-pound estate.


After they moved into a £1.5m home together, Stewart slowly began slipping her his prescription anti-insomnia medication. Once she had been stupefied by the drugs, he killed Ms Bailey.


Stewart was also sentenced to 18 months for illicitly increasing a standing order to himself from Ms Bailey's bank account on the day of the murder, earning him £12,000 over three months.





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