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Mother 'unhappy' over author Helen Bailey's relationship with murder accused

The mother of children's author Helen Bailey became "uneasy" about the man accused of killing her in the weeks before she vanished, a court has heard.

Ian Stewart, 56, is accused of murdering the writer after gradually doping her with sedatives in a financially motivated plot last year.

Her elderly mother, Eileen Bailey, broke down in tears as she told his trial at St Albans Crown Court that her daughter had "panicked" about her deteriorating state of mind.

The 51-year-old had become "highly anxious", repeatedly forgetful and felt "spaced out" all the time, jurors were told.

Asked about her views on the couple's relationship, her mother said: "Well, I felt uneasy about it, latterly I was quite unhappy - mainly because of Helen's state of mind."

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

In the weeks before Ms Bailey went missing in April 2016, she had fallen in a supermarket after becoming dizzy, once left Tesco still holding an item scanner and felt "sleepy a lot of the time".

On one occasion - around a fortnight before she was allegedly killed - she left her devoted companion, Boris the dog, on a beach.

Speaking to the court via video-link, with a framed picture of the author visible behind her shoulder, Mrs Bailey told the court: "She said that she had come away from the beach and gone home and Ian had said he would go and get the dog, but she was almost traumatised by that, repeating 'You know, Mum, I would never have done that'.

"That really worried me."

She added: "She was having lapses in memory, she just had such a good memory beforehand."

Three months after she vanished, Ms Bailey's body was discovered in a cesspit below the couple's sprawling home.

Discovered during a post-mortem examination were traces of an anti-insomnia drug prescribed to Stewart, which had side-effects including forgetfulness and drowsiness, the court previously heard.

Mrs Bailey said: "She said when she was sitting at the computer she could not recognise her own hands - that was worrying."

The writer complained of falling into a long, sudden sleep the week before her disappearance - despite having had a full night's rest.

Mrs Bailey said: "I picked the phone up and she said 'Hi Mum, it's me' and I said 'Hello you' and then, in this panicked voice, she said 'I just slept five hours'.

"That took me by surprise and I said 'You must have needed it' and she said 'What, after a night's sleep?'"

Breaking down, her mother added: "I feel I was dismissive."

One juror could be seen quietly wiping away tears after hearing Mrs Bailey's emotional evidence.

Mrs Bailey said she thought Stewart had cooked her daughter breakfast on the morning of the nap, but on cross-examination said she could not be sure.

Episodes of dizziness and tiredness were also reported to Mrs Bailey by her daughter.

She told the court: "Particularly when she was shopping and wanting to reach up for something from the shelf - she would fall to the floor."

In the wake of his fiancee's disappearance, Stewart behaved in an erratic manner, jurors were told.

Detective Constable Hollie Daines told the trial: "I found his behaviour generally quite unexpected at times - he had already snapped at me a couple of times when I was asking him to do an interview."

She added: "I found him rude, temperamental, unco-operative and dismissive of us."

After officers had concluded a first interview with Stewart, he is alleged to have said: "Am I still a suspect? I must be, I must be a suspect."

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