'I literally checked everywhere' – Royston murder trial jury hear recording of police call made by suspect Ian Stewart reporting partner Helen Bailey missing
PUBLISHED: 14:50 17 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:57 17 January 2017
Murder suspect Ian Stewart told a police call handler when reporting his partner Helen Bailey missing that he had ‘literally checked everywhere’ for the children’s author, St Albans Crown Court heard today.
Mr Stewart is accused of drugging and killing Ms Bailey for her fortune, and dumping her body in a secret cesspit beneath their house in Royston’s Baldock Road, along with that of her dog Boris in April last year.
A call the 56-year-old made to police at 3.47pm on April 15 – four days after he is alleged to have killed Ms Bailey – was played to the jury, with Mr Stewart asked questions about her disappearance.
When recalling Ms Bailey’s whereabouts, Mr Stewart told the police call handler that the 51-year-old left a note saying she ‘needed space and time alone’ and that she had gone to Broadstairs in Kent – where she had a holiday home – and wished to not be contacted.
When asked if she had indicated when she would return, Mr Stewart, who is originally from Letchworth, said: “No, ‘cos it’s never happened before, no. And her phone is dead, well I say dead, it doesn’t ring, it goes straight to answer machine.”
In the recording, Mr Stewart – who sat in the dock wearing a black and white check shirt with a white collar and blue jeans – said: “She left her car here, but did take her dog with her. She could get there by train or take a taxi. She does do that sort of thing.”
He said he had been to the doctors and run errands for her on the day she went missing, he said he left the house at 2.45pm and, upon his return just before 5pm, she had gone and left a note on his desk.
The call handler asked if it was a shock that she had gone, if he had been expecting the note and Mr Stewart said: “No I wasn’t… Well yes, it was a shock. She had talked about it but it was still a shock.
“She talked about wanting space, because things haven’t gone well for her lately, for us.”
The police asked if there were any concerns about her behaviour and the jury heard Mr Stewart say in the call: “She has been very anxious, and very worried about lots of things. She’s a worrier, a natural worrier.”
The court heard the call handler ask if Helen was definitely not at home.
Mr Stewart replied: “I’ve literally checked everywhere. We have quite a large house, I’ve literally checked everywhere.”
The call handler asked if Ms Bailey had ever attempted suicide or self harm, to which Mr Stewart replied “No, no, no everyone’s sure she hasn’t, no.”
He was asked if she is ever likely to have been a victim of any sort of abuse, to which Mr Stewart said: “No, I know she’s a very strong person. It would be very hard to abuse Helen, she’d come back at you very strongly.”
The handler also asked if she is likely to be involved or subjected to crime, and Mr Stewart said: “Did you say, I’m sorry I heard the word crime but…”
When the handler repeated the question, Mr Stewart said: “No.”
He was asked to describe Ms Bailey’s appearance in the call, he described her hair colour as black with grey streaks, but couldn’t state her eye colour, saying: “Oh my god, how do you forget these things, I don’t know at the moment it’s gone out of my head.”
He also had to look up her phone number and date of birth while on the call, and said he didn’t know the address of their Broadstairs cottage.
The handler gave Mr Stewart a reference number and instructed him on what to do if he had anymore information.
The trial, which started last week, continues.