Beds, Herts & Bucks

Helen Bailey murder: Author's body took two days to recover

Helen Bailey on BBC TV in December 2015
Image caption Helen Bailey's body was found in a cesspit at her home three months after she disappeared

Experts spent two days recovering a children's author from a cesspit where her body was dumped, a court has heard.

Electra Brown writer Helen Bailey, 51, was found beneath the garage at her home in Royston, Hertfordshire, in July.

Only Ms Bailey's elbow was visible when police first looked inside the deep well underneath her mansion, jurors at St Albans Crown Court heard.

Her fiance Ian Stewart, 56, denies murdering her.

'Hard crust'

Mr Stewart reported Ms Bailey missing three days after she was last seen alive on 11 April.

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In July, three months after she vanished, her body, together with that of her dog, was found in the septic tank at her home.

Jurors were shown images of Ms Bailey's elbow, which was encased in a "hard crust" of excrement inside the tank.

Det Ch Insp Jerome Kent, one of the officers who found Ms Bailey's body, told the court: "I'm embarrassed to say it took me some convincing to work out what I was looking at.

"What I was faced with was a dry, hard crust of what I now know was more than mud.

"There was a small, very pale white object in that, which I now know was part of Helen's elbow."

The jury were not shown more graphic pictures of Ms Bailey's remains being removed from the pit.

Image copyright Herts Police
Image caption The bodies of Helen Bailey and her dog were found in the pit beneath the garage

A month after Ms Bailey went missing, the court heard, Mr Stewart renewed the couple's Arsenal season tickets using their joint account.

He also paid for flyers and joined her friends on a dog walk in an effort to find her, jurors were told.

Jay Nolan-Latchford, who organised the walk and led an online campaign to find her, said she found the man "unemotional" and "very contained".

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

The trial continues.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Ian Stewart denies murdering the author

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