The death of author Helen Bailey was unlikely to have occurred because of natural causes, a jury at St Albans Crown Court has heard. A forensic pathologist also raised the possibility that the writer could have been alive when dropped into the cesspit on the grounds of her home in Royston, Hertfordshire, where her body was found.
Bailey’s partner Ian Stewart is currently on trial for murder, perverting the course of justice by reporting his partner as missing while hiding her body, and preventing a lawful burial. He is pleading not guilty to the charges.
Speaking in court, forensic pathologist Nathaniel Carey said Bailey was last alive on 11th April 2016 and her body was found in a cesspit on 15th July. Carey said it was "possible that she was put down the well in an unconscious state and then drowned", according to trial reports.
Bailey's body contained traces of Zopiclone, a sleeping drug, Carey said. According to the Cambridge News he told St Albans Crown Court: “It’s almost common sense the concealment of Helen’s body… in the cesspit speaks of third party involvement. You don’t need to be an expert to know that. The inference I draw from that - there was a third party involved in circumstances leading up to death, with the finding of Zopiclone.
“It is my understanding that Zopiclone is a prescription-only drug and was prescribed to the defendant. It may be that the deceased ingested Zopiclone unbeknown to her. The findings are consistent with her being under the influence of Zopiclone at the time Helen met her death. The formal cause of death I gave in this circumstance was undetermined.”
Another witness, GP Dr Afshan Kahn, told the court she gave Stewart a 28-day prescription for Zopiclone.
Dr Mark Piper, a toxicology manager, said there were traces of the drug in Bailey’s body but he could not confirm whether the drug was taken [by Helen] knowingly or not.
Yesterday (10th January) the court heard that Stewart was probably motivated to kill Bailey, worth "approaching £4m", for financial reasons after she had made arrangements for him to receive the house if she died before they got married.
Bailey is the author behind the Electra Brown series (Hodder Children’s Books).
The trial continues.