Beds, Herts & Bucks

Helen Bailey murder trial: Ian Stewart 'grossly deceived' author

Ian Stewart and Helen Bailey Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Ian Stewart and Helen Bailey met online following the deaths of their respective spouses

A children's author was "grossly deceived" by her alleged killer who began "love bombing" her to win her affections, a court has heard.

Ian Stewart, 56, denies murdering his fiancee Helen Bailey at their home in Royston, Hertfordshire, last April.

Her body was found in a cess pit three months after she was reported missing.

In his closing statement, prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC said Mr Stewart's defence - that two violent kidnappers were responsible - was "quite absurd".

He told the jury at St Albans Crown Court that Ms Bailey, 51, was "absolutely besotted" with Mr Stewart, who is accused of murdering her in order to inherit her money.

"It is perfectly plain she was completely overwhelmed by what some people might call 'love bombing'," Mr Trimmer said.

Image copyright Helen Tipper
Image caption Artist's impression of Ian Stewart in court and the judge

The pair had met online following the deaths of Ms Bailey's husband John Sinfield in 2011, and Mr Stewart's wife in 2010.

"It is a matter of common sense and knowledge that someone shortly bereaved might not have the logical equipment to see she was being deceived," Mr Trimmer continued.

"And the Crown says she was being grossly deceived by someone who was preying on her."

But Mr Stewart's defence barrister Simon Russell Flint criticised the Crown's "highly speculative theories".

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption It took two days to recover Ms Bailey's remains from the septic tank

Mr Russell Flint, in his closing speech, said: "If you are not sure... any reasonable doubts on the evidence you must find Mr Stewart not guilty."

He told the jury it wasn't for Mr Stewart to prove anything. He said the burden of proof was on the prosecution.

Mr Russell Flint said: "What possible motive could he have?"

"What caused this mild mannered, loving family man... what made him suddenly decide to kill Helen Bailey?

"It makes no sense at all. It's complete nonsense. It's rubbish."

Mr Stewart claimed Ms Bailey had been snatched by two men who blackmailed him for £500,000, and had threatened him and his two sons.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption The author's body was discovered three months after she went missing

He told the jury the men, called Nick and Joe, were business associates of Ms Bailey's late husband and were responsible for the killing and hiding her body under the garage of her home.

The court has also heard evidence from a number of witnesses who claim they saw Ms Bailey after the time she was allegedly murdered.

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

The trial continues.

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