Royston murder suspect Ian Stewart: 'I had to tell a lie to keep Helen safe'
PUBLISHED: 14:49 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:49 09 February 2017
Ian Stewart admitted he had told lies as cross-examination began in the Royston murder trial at St Albans Crown Court this afternoon.
Mr Stewart denies drugging and murdering his 51-year-old partner Helen Bailey and dumping her body in a cesspit at their home in Baldock Road.
From the witness stand, Mr Stewart – who is 56, and originally from Letchworth – told the jury that two men called Joe and Nick had kidnapped Helen and her seven-year-old dachshund Boris on April 11, 2016.
He said he had spoken to her briefly on the telephone on April 15, but never again – and claimed to have been subjected to threats and orders by the two men, who among other things demanded that he pay them £500,000.
Speaking for the prosecution, Stuart Trimmer QC said: “You are without a doubt a liar, aren’t you?”
Mr Stewart replied: “No.”
The prosecutor continued: “You spent the time from April 11 – yes, up until the time you were arrested on July 11 – telling anybody and everybody that Helen had just gone, and that was by your own account a lie.
“You knew perfectly well on your account that Joe and Nick had her, but those words never passed your lips between April 11 and sometime in December when you wrote them down.”
Mr Stewart replied: “I take back what I said before then, but I had to tell that version of events to keep Helen safe.”
Mr Trimmer then asked: “You didn’t mention Joe and Nick, did you?” – to which Mr Stewart acknowledged that he hadn’t.
The prosecutor went on: “What you did say was that she was gone and that you thought she had gone to Broadstairs in Kent. You encouraged a number of people to go looking for her. You paid for those flyers, so people could gather support.”
Mr Stewart replied: “It all got out of control, everyone cares for Helen.”
Mr Trimmer then asked: “It was murder, wasn’t it?”
The defendant agreed to that, and to there being no suggestion she killed herself.
Mr Trimmer also put it to Mr Stewart that he had not killed Helen either in a burst of anger or because of a mental condition.
The defendant replied: “I didn’t do it at all” – adding that Joe and Nick must have killed Helen.
Mr Stewart agreed with Mr Trimmer’s description of him as an ‘intelligent man’.
The prosecutor put it to Mr Stewart that when first questioned for murder after the discovery of Helen’s body in the cesspit on July 15, he must have been ‘boiling with rage’, knowing in his mind that Joe and Nick had killed her.
Mr Stewart said he was not. “It didn’t seem real, it didn’t seem possible, it didn’t seem right,” he said.
Mr Trimmer told the court that Ms Bailey was a vulnerable bereaved woman, and that the defendant had gone onto forums for widows and widowers aware that they would have lots of money.
Mr Stewart said he did not know how much he would stand to inherit from Helen, who was a successful children’s author.
He denies murder, preventing a lawful burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice.
The cross-examination continues this afternoon.