The man accused of murdering children's author Helen Bailey for financial gain "grossly deceived" her, jurors have heard, as the prosecution branded his account of a kidnapping "absurd" in the concluding stages of the six-week murder trial.
Ian Stewart, 56, who was Bailey's partner, denies killing the author on 11th April 2016, as well as charges of fraud, preventing a lawful burial and three offences of perverting the course of justice.
Bailey, who wrote the Electra Brown series (Hodder Children’s Books), was reported missing in April last year, along with her pet dog Boris. Her body, and that of her dog's, were found in the grounds of their £1.5m home in Royston, Hertfordshire in July.
Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC told St Albans Crown Court that Stewart had been "preying" on Bailey. Stewart in his defence accused two men, known only as Joe and Nick, of kidnapping Bailey. However in summing up Trimmer called this explanation "quite absurd".
The prosecution has accused Stewart of killing Bailey “probably by suffocation” after slowly drugging her with sleeping pill Zopiclone in the weeks running up to her death. But, according to ongoing court reports from Cambridge News, Stewart has denied ever administering sleeping pills to her surreptitiously "in any way, at any time". Stewart also told the court during the trial that he "didn't need the money" and that their life together was "idyllic".
A monthly standing order to Stewart and Bailey's joint account was amended from £600 to £4,000 on the day the author is alleged to have disappeared on 11th April, but Stewart said he "assumed" Bailey had made the change, although admitted he "didn't understand" why she would have done it.
Two men, "Joe and Nick", were introduced to Stewart's defence in the fifth week of the trial. He said in evidence that "a man called Joe", a business associate of Bailey’s late first husband John Sinfield, and his friend "Nick" had killed Bailey and disposed of her body after attempts to blackmail Stewart for £500,000. Stewart claims he didn't say anything about Joe and Nick on his arrest for Bailey's murder because the two men had threatened his sons.
Trimmer, for the prosecution, said Bailey’s alleged kidnappers, "Joe and Nick", were made up and that Stewart’s version of events “becomes so absurd that a child who wrote it in his essay aged 11 might be laughed at by the rest of his class”.
He also said: "It is perfectly plain [Bailey] was completely overwhelmed by what some people might call ‘love-bombing’. She was absolutely besotted with [Stewart] – the gorgeous, grey-haired widower. 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. And the Crown says she was being grossly deceived by someone who was preying on her.”
Stewart's defence counsel Simon Russell Flint said in his closing speech there was nothing to suggest that Stewart, whom he refered to as a "mild mannered, loving family man", was trying to get Bailey to change her will in his favour and that he had "no motive" having "in cash terms" more assets than Bailey. He also said the couple had been happy together and there was no evidence as to how Bailey died.
“He had no motive to kill Helen at all, and had every reason not to kill her. Once you accept that this motive is just not there it makes the likelihood of the Crown’s theory very wrong," said Flint in Stewart's defence.
He also asked: "Would you leave a body on your own doorstep for discovery at any time? Is that the reasoning of a long term crafted plan to do away with your partner? A carefully carried out plan? It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?"
The trial continues.