Beds, Herts & Bucks

Helen Bailey murder trial: Partner 'spoke to missing author'

Helen Bailey Image copyright SBNA
Image caption Helen Bailey was reported missing on 15 April

The man accused of murdering a children's author has told a court he spoke to her on the phone four days after she went missing.

Ian Stewart, 56, said Helen Bailey had been snatched by two men who blackmailed him for £500,000.

He told St Albans Crown Court he spoke to her on the phone four days later and she told him: "I love you".

The 56-year-old denies murdering his fiancee, whose body was found at their home in Hertfordshire.

He told the court he had been subjected to a series of demands by her alleged tormentors, involving threats against Ms Bailey and his two sons.

Cross-examining Mr Stewart, prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC told him: "You are, without doubt, a complete liar".

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Image copyright SBNA
Image caption Ian Stewart alleges two men snatched Helen Bailey from the couple's home in Royston, Hertfordshire

Mr Stewart alleged the two men, Nick and Joe, were business associates of Ms Bailey's late first husband John Sinfield and had taken her on 11 April.

He said that four days later, Nick had returned to the house Mr Stewart shared with the Northumberland-born author in Royston, Hertfordshire.

Nick handed him a phone and he spoke to Ms Bailey, the jury heard, and she said "I love you. Sorry about everything".

He told the court he had responded by saying: "It's not your fault. I love you too".

Mr Stewart claimed his fiancee asked him to search the house for her own mobile phone before he was assaulted and threatened by Nick.

He reported her missing on the afternoon of 15 April.

Image copyright Helen Tipper/BBC
Image caption Mr Stewart repeatedly broke down in tears while giving evidence

The court previously heard how Mr Stewart said he lied to Ms Bailey's friends, family and the police about her whereabouts out of fear for her life.

Her body was found in a cesspit under the garage of the couple's home on 15 July, along with that of her dachshund, Boris.

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

The trial continues.

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