'There's no way I killed Helen' - Ian Stewart takes to the stand in Royston murder trial
PUBLISHED: 18:54 07 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:53 08 February 2017
Ian Stewart said there's 'no way' he murdered his partner Helen Bailey when he took to the witness stand as the defence case in the Royston murder trial opened today at St Albans Crown Court.
Mr Stewart is accused of drugging and killing Ms Bailey for her fortune, and dumping her body, and that of her pet dog Boris in an excrement-filled cesspit beneath the garage of their Baldock Road home.
Defence barrister Simon Russell Flint QC asked Mr Stewart – who is originally from Letchworth – to confirm his name and date of birth, and read through the indictment.
Mr Stewart chose to stand throughout his evidence, and drank from a cup of water just before answering the first question – which was ‘did you kill Helen Bailey?’ He replied no.
The 56-year-old also denied playing any part in causing her death and having any knowledge of her death until her body was found.
He was asked about the fraud charge, and denied logging onto her Barclays bank account to change a standing order from £600 to £4,000 on the day she is alleged to have died. He also denied getting rid of a duvet, reporting Ms Bailey missing to police, and disposing of her iPhone to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Russell Flint asked Mr Stewart questions about his childhood.
“I was born in Letchworth Garden City,” Mr Stewart said.
“My dad was a teacher, my mum was a secretary.”
He was asked if he had any difficulties in his childhood.
“The only thing that was slightly difficult is mum had post natal depression severely, which caused her depression and OCD,” he said.
Mr Stewart said he went to a grammar school, and then went on to the University of Salford to study electronic computer systems.
During the evidence, Mr Russell Flint asked Mr Stewart to talk more slowly as he has ‘a tendency to speak quite rapidly.’ Mr Stewart also became emotional at various points.
Mr Stewart recalled how he got the noticeable scar on his cheek – at Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre where he had gone to play sport at the age of 18 – and said: “It was very slippery – I put my hand on the door, my foot slipped and went through the glass.”
As a result he had deep cuts to his face and leg.
He said he was awarded £7,000 in compensation as the council put in the wrong glass – the money he described as “a reasonable amount in those days.”
Mr Stewart told the court how he had suffered poor health, but still finished his degree with first class honours, and met his future wife Diane at Salford.
He worked in Hitchin before starting a PhD at Cambridge which he eventually gave up for a job in Shepreth – so he and Diane moved to Bassingbourn. Not finishing his course he said was his one regret.
He was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 1995, which caused muscle weakness and breathing problems.
Following the death of his wife Diane in June 2010, Mr Stewart told the court how he joined a forum for widows and widowers, and the forum’s Facebook group, which Ms Bailey, 51, had also joined after her husband John Sinfield died in Barbados in 2011.
Mr Stewart told the court that she messaged him first: “One morning I was on Facebook and Helen suddenly said ‘Hi, how are you?’ I said ‘I’m OK how are you doing?
“She said: ‘I’m not doing great – in two days’ time it’s John’s funeral’.”
And the court heard Mr Stewart’s response: “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be hard, but do what feels right for you.
“It’s your funeral, it’s your memories.”
The pair exchanged long emails from then on – which eventually became ‘flirty’.
Things progressed and he drove to her house unexpectedly one day, where they met in person for the first time. Mr Stewart becomes emotional as he tells the court how they fell into each others’ arms and he stayed at her house that night.
Mr Stewart tells the court how he was completely different from her first husband.
“JS and myself were totally different people,” Mr Stewart said.
“He was very sophisticated, smooth and suave, and I’m not.
“It wasn’t a problem for me or a problem for Helen. Helen was very different from my wife, but we just clicked.
Mr Russell Flint asked: “So by this time were you falling in love?”
He replied: “I fall in love quite quickly, I can’t remember when this was but she warned me to never say the ‘L word’.
But he told the court he did and that about a week later he hugged Ms Bailey and she said that she loved him too.
“I never stopped loving her,” he said.
Mr Russell Flint then said: “It is going to be suggested tomorrow that you killed her.”
To which Mr Stewart replied: “No way.”
The trial continues.