- Author met widower on Facebook bereavement group after her husband died
- They bought a large house together and she wrote him into a new will
- He's thought to have smothered her before hiding her body in a cesspit
- It emerged today that police are now set to investigate the death of his first wife
- Killer faces a life sentence when he is sentenced by a judge tomorrow
This is the moment the evil murder plot of Helen Bailey's fiance finally caught up with him when he was arrested for her murder.
Ian Stewart told detectives the popular children's author had disappeared after leaving a note saying she needed time to herself.
But after it emerged he stood to gain from her death and had increased payments into their joint account, police moved in and arrested the computer software expert.
A search of the couple's Hertfordshire £1.5million property later uncovered the writer's body and that of her dog in a cesspit beneath a garage.
After a six-week trial, he was found guilty of murder, fraud, three counts of perverting the course of justice and preventing a lawful burial at St Albans Crown Court today.
Stewart secretly drugged the 51-year-old widowed writer before suffocating her at the couple's £1.5million home in Royston, five years after they met through a Facebook bereavement group.
He later claimed that two mystery kidnappers named 'Nick' and 'Joe' were to blame - but the men did not exist and they are thought to have been dreamed up by Stewart based on two friends he knew from his days playing lawn bowls.
Police footage shows the moment Ian Stewart was arrested for killing his fiance Helen Bailey. He has been convicted of murder and faces a life sentence when he appears in court tomorrow
Ian Stewart has been found guilty of murdering his fiance, children's author Helen Bailey
Pictured, left, Stewart after his arrest. Ms Bailey (right) The author was loved by teens around the country for her Electra Brown novels and her blog on coping with grief
She was eventually found after police dug down beneath the garage and took the cesspit apart.
Stewart had used Mrs Bailey's Jeep to cover the entrance to the garage cesspit where he hid her body, meaning she wasn't discovered for three months.
Her arm was spotted poking out of 'human excrement' alongside her beloved pet dachshund Boris, which was also killed by Stewart in a bid to cover his tracks.
His trial heard he was in line to gain two homes, enough cash to ensure a 'very comfortable' lifestyle, as well as pension and life insurance payments after her death.
- It emerged today that police are now investigating the death of Stewart's first wife, Diane, who he said suffered an epileptic fit.
- Police footage of Stewart's arrest shows him worrying about an open door to the garage beneath which Ms Bailey's body was found.
- Questions were raised over the three months it took police to find the victim's body, despite it being within the grounds of her home.
- CCTV footage emerged of Stewart dumping a duvet believed to have been used to wrap her body and evading police questions.
Footage filmed by a body camera worn by one of the officers when he was arrested shows Stewart worrying about the open door to the garage where her body was found.
The footage shows a group of police officers going to the house in Royston, where Stewart's son Jamie answered the front door.
Jamie then went upstairs to wake up his father and Stewart is seen coming downstairs in his dressing gown. When told he is being arrested for murder, he replies: 'You're joking.'
When asked if he understands what he is suspected of, he replies: 'I guess so.'
He then sits, his head resting on his hand, saying 'Bloody hell, why?' and 'What happened?'
He is told by an officer that he will have a chance to discuss the case at the police station.
In a key piece of evidence which was later used in court, Stewart says: 'The garage door is open,' as he is led upstairs to get dressed.
During Stewart's trial, jurors heard how Ms Bailey may still have been alive when he dragged her into the waste pit fully clothed, except for her bare feet.
A pathologist said it was 'possible she was put down the well in an unconscious state' and drowned.
An image made by police shows the cesspit where Helen's body was found under the garage
Police had to dig down many feet beneath the garage to recover the body from the cesspit
Ms Bailey's body and that of her dog, Boris were found beneath this garage at her home
Other theories are that Stewart put her in a martial arts neck lock while drugged and then suffocated her, although the length of time it took police to find the body meant it was impossible to determine an exact cause of death.
The court was told that 51-year-old Miss Bailey wrote a will in 2012 in which she left her fortune to her brother John Bailey, step-son Daniel Sinfield and friend Jenny Winterbottom.
But in July 2014 she changed her will so that her fiancé would inherit most of her assets in the event of her death.
The Electra Brown writer was said to have had assets worth £3.3million at the time of her alleged killing in April 2016.
This included a property portfolio with an estimated value of £1,850,000 and savings in her own accounts of around £60,000, plus £90,000 in a joint account with Stewart, jurors heard.
Police interview footage filmed 11 days after Stewart said Ms Bailey disappeared shows him insisting he cannot remember what happened on the day and refusing to answer questions
He also claimed no one new had visited him in recent months, despite later claiming in court that two men kidnapped Ms Bailey
CCTV shows Stewart disposing of a duvet at a local rubbish dump on the day Ms Bailey is believed to have died. Prosecutors believe her body may have been wrapped in the cover after she was killed.
Newly released police footage also shows Stewart evading questions in the months after he reported his fiance missing.
On April 22, just 11 days after Helen disappeared, he gave a confusing account of what happened, insisting he could not remember much and 'it felt like I was on morphine'.
Despite claiming his new love was missing, he stopped answering police questions at one point, citing worries about his health.
In an interview at his home on May 4, he insists no new visitors or people had come into his life in recent months, despite later claiming two men had kidnapped Ms Bailey.
CCTV footage showed Stewart dumping a duvet believed to have been used to wrap the body
Police will re-investigate the death of Ian Stewart's first wife who 'died of natural causes' as her family say they still have 'unanswered questions'
Police are to launch a new probe into the death of Ian Stewart's first wife in the wake of his conviction for the murder of children's author Helen Bailey, it has emerged.
A senior detective confirmed to MailOnline that the circumstances surrounding the death of Diane Stewart in 2010 would be investigated for any suspicion of foul play.
It comes as her family confessed to having 'many unanswered questions' despite a coroner ruling that the 47-year-old school secretary died of natural causes linked to her epilepsy.
DCI Jerome Kent, of Hertfordshire Police, said: '[In light of Stewart's conviction] it will not be a surprise to hear that we will be looking into his past to see if there is anything else to consider.'
Police are to launch a new probe into the death of Ian Stewart's first wife Diane (pictured) in the wake of his conviction for the murder of children's author Helen Bailey, it has emerged
Diane Stewart is pictured with sons Jamie and Oliver and her husband Ian in December 2009
But he stressed that it was not a murder investigation, nor was Stewart suspected of killing his first wife.
The father of two was today found guilty of murdering Mrs Bailey before dumping her body in a fetid cesspit as part of a twisted plot to get his hands on her £4million fortune.
He secretly drugged the 51-year-old writer with 'date rape'-type pills before killing her at the couple's £1.5million home five years after they met through a Facebook bereavement group.
Stewart began talking to Mrs Bailey, who penned teen fiction series 'Electra Brown' and 'Daisy Davenport', seven months after her husband drowned and a year after he lost his own wife.
The father of two found Mrs Stewart collapsed in the garden of their half a million pound home. She died on June 25, 2010.
In September of that year, her sister Wendy Bellamy-Lee wrote on a Facebook memorial group for Mrs Stewart: 'The coroner deemed the cause of death to be "unexpected Epileptic fit".'
But now police will look into whether Stewart had anything to do with the death of the former air cadets volunteer and school secretary.
Father of two Stewart (left) was today found guilty of murdering Mrs Bailey before dumping her body in a fetid cesspit as part of a twisted plot to get his hands on her £4million fortune
Diane Stewart's sister posted on Facebook in 2013 that the family had 'unanswered questions'
DCI Kent told MailOnline: 'We will look into Diane Stewart's death but as she died in 2010 there is probably not much more evidence we'll be able to obtain beyond the coroner's report.
'We'll go over everything known at the time because it's right that we look back into Stewart's past.
'But I must stress this is not a murder investigation nor are there any suspects at this time.'
Ms Bellamy-Lee posted on Facebook in 2013, three years after her sister's death, that her family still had 'unanswered questions'.
She wrote: 'We were and still are numb and completely shocked today as to why it happened with so many unanswered questions!'
Why did it take THREE months to find Helen Bailey's body? Police searched her £1.5m home twice but it took the help of a neighbour tip-off before she was finally found in the cesspit
Police are today facing questions about why it took three months to find the body of murdered children's author Helen Bailey buried in a cesspit at her £1.5million home.
Twice they searched the property she shared with the fiance who killed her but it took the help of a neighbour tip-off to find her remains in a cesspit full of raw sewage hidden 15ft beneath the garage.
Detectives first considered Ian Stewart a suspect in June but it was another month before he was arrested and an extensive search of the house carried out.
Stewart parked Mrs Bailey's Jeep (pictured left) over the entrance to the cesspit in the garage
Speaking at the time of the police's grim discovery, close family friend Margaret Holson, 73, told the Daily Mirror: 'How could they not have found something until now, there have been sniffer dogs there? I can't believe it.
'All these months when we have been sending her messages to come back, and she's been there.'
Twice police searched the property in Royston, Hertfordshire – once when the children's author first vanished last April and again following her fiance's arrest on suspicion of murder in July.
Police were in the middle of their search when a neighbour told them the previous owner of the house often joked 'he had the perfect place to hide a body'.
Nicki McGrathy, whose mother lives close by, told The Sun at the time: 'I went up to the officers and said "Have you drained the well?"
The opening to the cesspit in the garage at the home Helen Bailey and Ian Stewart shared
Ms McGrathy added: 'A senior officer came over the next day and said you might have given my guys some information last night, can you tell me about what you know and asked if he we had the details of the guy who used to own the house.'
'They asked him about the cesspit and it turned out the cesspit they had been draining was the overflow and they hadn't found the actual cesspit.'
Defending Hertfordshire Police's handling of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Jerome Kent told MailOnline he was satisfied police could have done nothing more to expedite the finding of her remains.
DCI Kent said: 'There is a difference between somebody having their house searched as a missing person and when it's a murder investigation.
DCI Jerome Kent told MailOnline he was satisfied police could have done nothing more to expedite the finding of her remains
'We would quickly lose people's trust if we took a very hard stance and extensively searched every missing person's house [as soon as they disappeared] and treated their family members as potential suspects.
'No one could have foreseen where Helen's body was.'
On the grim discovery, he said: 'We started on the early morning of the 11th July when he [Stewart] was initially arrested, took control of the house and found Helen's body on the 15th July. We then continued with the search for the next 2-3 weeks.
'We were aware very early on that the property had a modern cesspit in the back garden, but it wasn't until we obtained a search warrant and removed vehicles from the garage that we discovered another man hole cover on the 12th July.
'In that we found another cesspit from a converted well that dated back to around 1890.'
DCI Kent said the police were already aware of a possible second cesspit when neighbours and previous owners of the house confirmed it was there.
It was due to be searched at the end of the week but it's thought that 'jokes about it being a good place to hide a body' brought this forward.
The three months that passed meant Mrs Bailey's remains were allowed to slowly decompose – creating a potential stumbling block for the prosecution when it came to giving more detail about her cause of death.
DCI Kent said the police were already aware of a possible second cesspit (pictured in a graphic) when neighbours and previous owners of the house confirmed it was there
But DCI Kent said he would not have done anything differently.
He added: 'Who could have known on April 15 when she was reported missing, when we were shown text messages on a phone begging for her to make contact, when Stewart handed out leaflets to find her, that poor Helen was 14ft under water in a cesspit under her garage?
'Only by slow, methodical work were we able to arrest Ian Stewart prior to the body being found. It is unusual to arrest someone without a body or a cause of death.
Author who opened her heart to readers after her husband drowned on a Caribbean holiday thought she had found her 'happy ending' with 'gorgeous, grey-haired widower' who became her killer
It was not just Helen Bailey's family who grieved for her when she was found dead last summer.
As well as the thousands of teenage fans of her Electra Brown novels, the writer had gained a huge following to her searingly honest blog about losing her first husband.
The online diary, which was later turned into a book called When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis, told of her husband John Sinfield's death in Barbados in 2011 and her long battle to come to terms with her loss.
Helen Bailey with her first husband John Sinfield. After witnessing him drown in Barbados in 2011. She started writing an acclaimed blog about her grief which later became a book
It was through her attempts to cope with his death that she met Ian Stewart, in a Facebook bereavement group, and she wrote to her followers telling them of her hopes she had found a 'happy ending'.
But she could not then have known that the man she dubbed her 'Gorgeous Grey-Haired Widower' or 'GGHW' would later kill her in a shocking plot to get his hands on her money.
Ms Bailey was born and brought up in the village Ponteland, Northumbria, the daughter of a public health inspector.
She studied physiology at Thames Polytechnic before embarking on a PhD, but was put off science when dealing with 'vomiting ferrets' at a London teaching hospital and decided to become a secretary.
A temporary post at a licensing agency in 1987 led to her meeting her husband, father-of-two and twice-married Mr Sinfield, as they stood at a photocopier.
Mr Sinfield was described as a very different character to Stewart, who she later met online
Mr Sinfield was a former BBC executive who went on to set up his own licensing company, handling the merchandising rights of characters such as Snoopy, Garfield and ET.
The couple set up home in North London at the height of the 'Yuppie boom' and drove around in a flashy Lotus Elan.
They married in Barbados in May 1996 and, while working negotiating contracts, Ms Bailey started writing in her free time, publishing over twenty books of short stories and young-adult fiction, including the successful teenage Electra Brown novels.
Ms Bailey described her A-level results as 'spectacularly disastrous', but she went to study science before becoming a successful writer of teen fiction
It was on a return trip to holiday island of Barbados in 2011 that Ms Bailey's life would be changed forever when she watched her husband sink beneath the waves and drown.
She later wrote of the tragedy: 'The day itself is a blur. For such a private, dignified man, he had a very public and undignified death, though I feel sure that he would not have known anything about it; that my screaming, the yells of the crowd, all fell on ears wired into an oxygen-starved brain.
'When everyone left — the doctors, the British consulate staff, the police — the momentum of death stopped. And I was alone.'
Writer Helen turned her grief into an acclaimed blog and book, pouring her heart out to readers, many of whom were a similar situation.
She wrote five months after John's death: 'It's been the most shockingly tearful start to August I've ever known. I've sobbed the length of Oxford Street, at the bus stop and on the bus; all over a poor woman walking her dog on Hampstead Heath and in the changing rooms at Uniqlo while trying to find a pair of jeans.'
Seven months after her husband's death, she met Stewart online and the pair began exchanging increasingly flirty messages.
Months before her death, she wrote of their relationship: 'At first we were both vulnerable, emotional wrecks, and our relationship could easily have collapsed as we worked through our grief.'
Former grammar schoolboy Stewart was born in Letchworth Garden City. His father was a teacher and his mother a secretary.
Ms Bailey met Stewart through a bereavement group on Facebook after his wife died in 2010
He went on to study computer systems at Salford University, where he met his wife Diane. The couple later bought a home in Cambridge with compensation money he was awarded after slipping on an icy path and falling through a glass door while was a student.
He worked at an engine company and drove an MG, but said both he and his wife suffered poor health, with Diane having had epileptic fits since she was at school.
An attack later hospitalised her and prevented her from driving and in 2010 she collapsed in their garden and tragically died.
Police have now confirmed they are investigating the circumstances of her death.
After his wife's death, Stewart was left to care for their sons, Jamie and Oliver, who were aged 18 and 15.
He learnt about groups for widows and widowers from a book he was given by one of Diane's bridesmaids and it was through one of these groups he met Ms Bailey.
Ms Bailey became a hero to many youngsters who read her Electra Brown novels
He told his trial about their whirlwind romance, saying: 'After a while we exchanged email addresses, and we started long email discussions. Our emails became bigger and bigger.
'We were talking about where we lived, we sent photos of our houses. She attached a photo of one of the houses and said tomorrow night she would be on her own.
'On that photo she had an address. I saw this as a subtle invite, I drove up unannounced to her house and text her to say I was here.
Ms Bailey had written about how she and Stewart were supporting each other through the grief of losing their partners
'She rushed out to see me, she was only wearing pyjamas, she wasn't happy but she was. We both fell into each other's arms.'
They became closer over time, with both apparently concerned about their previous loss.
Stewart told the jury: 'It became apparent over the years that myself and John Sinfield were very different people, he was very sophisticated smooth and suave, I was not. Helen was very different to Diane. But either way we just really clicked.'
Stewart sold his £520,000 home and put most of the money into the £1.5million home he bought with Ms Bailey. His two sons moved in with the couple as well.
Ms Bailey wrote: 'We supported each other and grew stronger. I'm still shell-shocked that my life after JS's death is so different from my life before.
'It’s not always easy living in a home that came together through sudden death. But life is good in ways that over four years ago I could never have imagined.'
The pair's romance seemed to be moving on apace, Ms Bailey told friends of their plans to marry and drew up a new will to give Stewart the house.
She told a friend: 'If anything, god forbid happens to me, the one thing I want to make sure is that Ian and the boys have the security of this house.'
It was a prediction which was to become a sickening reality when, after three months in which she was treated as missing, her body was found in a cesspit beneath the garage of their home.
Devastated relatives of murdered author reach out to killer's family
The family of Helen Bailey have said today's verdict will not 'right the wrong' of her terrible death.
Ms Bailey was murdered by Ian Stewart, who she met through a Facebook bereavement group after they both lost their previous partners.
In an extraordinary move, Ms Bailey's brother John said in a statement that her family were thinking of Stewart's family, including his two sons who lived with Ms Bailey around the time of her death.
Helen Bailey's brother said that no verdict could 'right the wrongs' on his sister's death
Her family said in a statement: 'Our thoughts are very much with Ian's family.
'Despite this victory for justice there can be no celebration. Our families have been devastated and nothing can ever bring Helen back to us, or truly right this wrong.
'A long shadow of loss has been cast over the lives of so many who will always remember Helen with enduring love and affection.
'At her memorial service, we asked attendees to write down what Helen's life had inspired them towards. From over 160 affirmative responses, one person wrote: 'To help people when they needed a friend'.
'With these words in mind, we now embark on rebuilding our lives and we respectfully request that we be allowed to do so in peace.'
The statement continues: 'When Helen's body was discovered last July, some three months after she had gone missing, we said we knew Helen would wish, like us, for justice to be done.
'We wish to thank the Police and Crown Prosecution Service for their unswerving professionalism and support, and to those individuals who gave up their time to be members of the jury or to give evidence in court, as now the perpetrator of this crime has been brought to book.
'We also wish to thank the many individuals for their support, some of whom have been grieving for their own personal loss – as their acts of kindness have been invaluable to us.'
Timeline: How killer struck after meeting author on Facebook
2011: Stewart, a widower, met Helen Bailey through a Facebook bereavement group, which he joined after his wife Diane died in 2010. Her husband of 22 years John Sinfield drowned in 2011 as she watched helplessly from a beach.
2013: Couple move in together .
2014: Helen Bailey makes a will because she had been concerned that Ian Stewart might be 'financially vulnerable' if she died.
February 2016: Stewart allegedly starts giving the author anti-insomnia drug Zopiclone and in the days before she died her Google searches included: 'Why do I keep falling asleep' and 'I'm so tired', the jury was told.
Police at the home the author shared with Stewart in Royston, Hertfordshire
April 11 2016: Stewart allegedly drugs his partner into 'stupefied' state and smothers her before throwing her body down into their cesspit. Boris the dog follows.
April 15: He reports her missing to the police saying she left with her Dachshund saying she needed time alone.
April 16: Stewart drives to Broadstairs in his BMW. Mrs Bailey's phone was found to have connected to the WiFi at her address in Broadstairs - the same day it was visited by Stewart. He denies having it, the court heard.
June: Stewart says he lost his phone. He goes to Spain on holiday and renews his Arsenal season ticket. He is now considered a suspect by police.
July 11: Police raid their home and he is arrested.
July 12: He refuses to answer questions and is bailed.
July 15: Police lift up manhole in garage and find her body in sewage with her dog Boris beside her
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