Beds, Herts & Bucks

Helen Bailey murder trial: Court hears accused's 999 call

Helen Bailey Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption Helen Bailey was the writer of the successful Electra Brown books for teenagers

The man accused of murdering the author Helen Bailey told police she had spoken of "wanting space", a trial has heard.

Ian Stewart made the comment during a recorded 999 call to report her missing, which was played to the jury at St Alban's Crown Court.

Ms Bailey, 51, was found dead in a cesspit under the garage of her home in Royston, Hertfordshire, in July. She had been missing for three months.

Her partner Mr Stewart, 56, denies murder.

The call was made on 15 April, four days after Ms Bailey was allegedly murdered, the court was told.

Image copyright Herts Police
Image caption Helen Bailey's body was found in a pit beneath the garage of the Royston home she shared with Ian Stewart

Mr Stewart told the police operator his fiancee had been "very, very anxious and very worried about lots of things".

He said: "She has talked about wanting space because things just haven't been going well for her recently, or for us."

In the recording, the jury heard the defendant say Ms Bailey had appeared stressed about losing venues for the couple's forthcoming marriage.

He added: "She left a note. She said in the note, something like I need space and time alone, I'm going to Broadstairs [where she owned a cottage], please don't contact me in any way."

Image caption Ian Stewart's trial started last week

When the police operator asked Mr Stewart if he was sure his partner was not at home, he said: "We have got quite a large house and I have literally checked everywhere."

He added: "I know she's a very strong person - it would be very hard to abuse Helen. She'd come back at you strongly."

Mr Stewart claimed he had been in contact with Helen's friends and her brother and none had heard from her.

The prosecution alleges he murdered Ms Bailey on 11 April by first plying her with a sleeping sedative and then suffocating her in order to gain financially.

He denies charges of murder, preventing a lawful burial, fraud and three counts of perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.

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