'Helen Bailey and dog Boris were kidnapped by two men', Royston murder suspect tells court
PUBLISHED: 18:34 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:24 09 February 2017
Royston author Helen Bailey was kidnapped by two former associates of her late husband, St Albans Crown Court heard today.
Ian Stewart gave evidence in the witness stand for a third day, rebutting accusations he had killed his partner of four years and dumped her body in a cesspit at their home in Baldock Road, along with that of her dog Boris.
Mr Stewart told the court that when he came home on the afternoon of April 11, Helen and Boris had been taken by two men called Joe and Nick – and he was ordered to say she had gone to her holiday home in Broadstairs, Kent.
Defence barrister Simon Russell Flint QC asked the 56-year-old whether he spoke to her after the kidnapping, to which he said he spoke to her by phone on Friday that week when Nick came to his door.
The court heard Mr Stewart was handed a mobile phone. “I said ‘hello’, and Helen said ‘I love you sorry about everything’,” the defendant, who is originally from Letchworth, told the jury.
“I said ‘it’s not your fault, I love you too’.
“She said: ‘I need my phone, it’s on my desk – give it to them do what they say’.
“I said: ‘Where are you?’ And then Nick took the phone off me.”
Mr Stewart said that he definitely knew it was his 51-year-old partner on the other end of the phone.
The court heard Mr Stewart was unsuccessful in a subsequent search for the phone – Nick became agitated and hit him in his side, knocking him onto all fours.
Mr Stewart recalled how Nick told him to go to Broadstairs the next day – whether he found the phone or not.
He told the court: “He spun me round and out arm round my neck. He said: ‘You don’t understand how serious this is, this is really serious. If you don’t do what we say or tell the police you won’t see Helen again’.”
Mr Stewart also explained how Nick had said if he really must call police, then not to so until after 3pm – unless he was contacted.
He reported his partner missing at 3.47pm – and said she had left a note saying she needed space and had gone to Broadstairs.
Under cross-examination, the defendant said regarding the note: “I was stuck with that lie wasn’t I?”
Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC said Joe, Nick and the kidnap plot was a fantasy, and that it was part of a ‘long-crafted cynical and cruel plan to do away with Helen Bailey’.
Defending, Mr Russell Flint asked Mr Stewart if he had any thoughts of telling police she had been taken by others.
He replied that he thought she would be back and, as time went on, they threatened to kill Helen and hospitalise Mr Stewart’s sons – so he kept quiet.
Mr Stewart told the court he found the phone and took it to Broadstairs, where it connected to the cottage WiFi router.
The court head how he came into contact with Nick, and sometimes Joe, many times. This included by phone when he went to Broadstairs, at the house, or on one occasion at a hotel bar the night before Mr Stewart went away on the holiday to Majorca he had booked with Ms Bailey.
He explained that it was during this meeting that Nick said they would need £500,000 compensation and that, as he was in the process of getting power of attorney, he could get it from Ms Bailey’s funds.
Mr Stewart said he went on holiday and tried to get as much money together when he got back, which is why he tried to access Ms Bailey’s sole bank account.
The defendant said even when he was arrested for murder he didn’t feel he could tell police about Joe and Nick – because he was worried for Helen, and his sons Jamie and Oliver.
Mr Stewart said: “I thought I’d wait to see if she was still with Joe and Dave – sorry, Joe and Nick.”
And then when her body was found he said: “When I was first told I thought it was a lie to be honest.
“I thought the police wanted me to stay something, but that was in my mind for quite a while.”
Mr Stewart said he was threatened in prison, which he thought were messages from Joe and Nick.
In December, after a phone call from an unknown person, he was told that Nick and Joe weren’t a problem anymore and he could tell the truth.
During cross-examination, Mr Trimmer said: “Your tale, and I mean that word deliberately, is that these people took Helen and Boris,
“It would encumbrance a kidnapper to have to take the dog as well.
“They didn’t say a reason for taking Boris. They didn’t make a threat to Boris.
“Your conclusion is that they must have put her in the cesspit, the dog as well, and the dog’s toy, and the pillow case and a couple of bin bags.”
Mr Stewart replied: “I never put anything in that pit.”
Mr Trimmer said: “The logical conclusion is it’s either them or you.” To which Mr Stewart responded: “That is one logical conclusion I guess.”
The trial continues on Monday.