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Helen Bailey murder accused told son two men had taken writer, court hears

The fiance of children's author Helen Bailey led his son to believe she had been "taken" by two violent men, a court heard.

Ian Stewart, 56, of Baldock Road, Royston, is accused of drugging and killing the writer at the home they shared in April 2016.

Following his arrest, he told his son Oliver that two men - Nick and Joe - had repeatedly shown up at the lavish property demanding paperwork - assaulting him on one occasion.

He claimed one of the men had given him a phone and forced him to follow certain instructions.

Oliver Stewart, 21, told Stewart's trial at St Albans Crown Court: "When he was telling me about these people, I could see that he was not joking, I could see the fear.

"Purely by him telling me that, that was the road I can see he was going down."

Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC asked: "What road was that?"

He replied: "That they were linked to the taking of Helen.

"I concluded they were involved in taking Helen because of the way he was telling me - there was fear in his face, he was not just joking about this."

He agreed the tone of the discussion made him feel he and his brother could come to harm at Nick and Joe's hands.

The 51-year-old writer's body was found, alongside her beloved dog Boris, swamped in human waste deep below her £1.5 million home in Royston in July 2016.

Stewart denies charges of murder, fraud, preventing a lawful burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice.

His trial also heard how he had been keen to hasten the sale of Ms Bailey's £185,000 property in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, following her disappearance.

On the day of the alleged murder itself, Stewart was said to have spent the evening watching his son Jamie play a game of bowls before enjoying a Chinese takeaway.

Oliver said his father made the claims about Nick and Joe when he visited him in custody in December.

He told the court: "He just made me aware that there were these two guys, Nick and Joe, he said they came to the house on a couple of occasions when we were away.

"He said originally when they were coming they wanted to find out from Helen about some paperwork, apparently they came to find this paperwork.

"Helen claimed to know nothing about of it but they seemed to be fairly sure she would have known something of it."

He added: "Knowing Dad had had an operation, on arrival at the front door they decided to punch him in the stomach."

One of the men was said to have tattoos while the other one was bald, Oliver told the jury.

"He let me know that they had given him a phone and they were instructing him to do things via the phone."

Earlier in the day, Stewart's other son, Jamie, said he had never been told by his father about the two men.

Oliver said there had never been any mention of their existence prior to his father's arrest.

On a later occasion, he told his son that one of the men had been "dealt with" but never explained what he meant, the court heard.

Jurors were also told how on April 11 - when Ms Bailey was said to have been killed - the defendant visited a solicitor with paperwork regarding the sale of the Gateshead property.

He claimed he was attending in place of Ms Bailey because she was was "unwell", solicitor Timothy Penn told the court.

In the weeks after her disappearance, Stewart rang Mr Penn on several occasions.

Mr Penn told the court of one phone call: "He said 'you probably know that Helen is missing and I'm wondering if you can carry on with this transaction in the meantime'."

On the trial's opening day, the jury heard Stewart was given power of attorney alongside her brother John in 2015, allowing him to control her affairs should she become unfit to administer them.

For the sale to go ahead, the power of attorney had to be properly registered and only applied as long as she was alive, Mr Penn said.

Mr Penn said of one later meeting: "I do remember on this occasion that he was very anxious and he was not at all pleased to hear the news that we were not able to proceed with the transaction, it didn't go down well."

It is alleged the killing had "money as its driving motive", with Stewart in line to be a "substantial" benefactor of the author's £4 million fortune in the event of her death.

Jamie Stewart, 24, told the jury he "cannot imagine" his father wanting to hurt Ms Bailey at all.

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