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Tearful lover denies murdering Electra Brown author for her money

The fiance of author Helen Bailey broke down in tears as he told a court he "never stopped loving" the woman he is accused of murdering for her money.

Ian Stewart said there was "no way" he was responsible for killing the Electra Brown writer and dumping her in a cesspit below their home last year.

The 56-year-old is accused of drugging and probably suffocating his bride-to-be as part of a plot to acquire her riches.

He was repeatedly overcome by emotion as he recalled the early days of their relationship, saying: "We totally clicked and worked together as a couple."

At the start of the defence case in his trial at St Albans Crown Court, the 56-year-old, wearing a chequered shirt and jeans, denied all accusations against him.

Simon Russell Flint, defending, said: "It is going to be suggested tomorrow, when I sit down, that you killed her."

Stewart replied: "No way."

The former software engineer said he first met Ms Bailey on a Facebook group for widowers and widows following the death of his wife in 2010.

The pair started out comforting each other over their losses - Ms Bailey's first husband drowned in 2011 - but eventually began a relationship.

Asked of the differences between himself and her first husband, John Sinfield, Stewart said: "It became apparent over time JS (Sinfield) and myself were totally different people. He was very sophisticated, smooth and suave, and I'm not.

"It wasn't a problem for me and it wasn't a problem for Helen; Helen was totally different from Diane, my first wife.

"We totally clicked and worked together as a couple.

"I had fallen in love with her quite quickly but she warned me once to never say the L word, but then I went to hug her and I said it and she replied instantly 'I love you too'.

"I said 'I wasn't supposed to say that, was I?' and she said 'no, but it's true - and I love you too'.

"I never stopped loving her."

Three months after she suddenly vanished on an afternoon in April last year, Ms Bailey was found dead, alongside her dachshund Boris, beneath the couple's garage.

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

Stewart told of how he once surprised Ms Bailey before they were together by driving to her home without warning in the dead of night.

"I drove up unannounced and texted her saying 'I'm here', and she said, 'what do you mean?' and I said I was outside, and she rushed out to see me.

"She was in her pyjamas and wasn't happy - but she was - and we fell into each other's arms and she said: 'Do you want to come inside?'"

He added: "We called it 'fruitcase Friday' - I was a nutter for driving up there and she was a nutter for letting an unknown man into her house."

He described how he had been stricken by poor health for decades and was diagnosed with the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis in 1995.

"Three years after I was first diagnosed I went back (to work) for three months, but then I never went back to work again," he told the court.

He added he had been in intensive care "five or six times".

Stewart also wept when remembering moments from his first marriage and was told by his barrister to take as much time as he needed.

He said: "We had no financial problems whatsoever, we were very lucky."

After her death, Stewart said Ms Bailey contacted him on an online Facebook group.

"One morning I was on there with a couple of others and someone said: 'Hi, how are you?' I said: 'Hey, how you doing?' and she said: 'I'm not doing great, in two days it's John's funeral.'

"I said: 'It is going to be hard, but just do what you want. It is your funeral, it is your memories, do what you want to do.'"

He said the couple went on a date, but it ended in tears after they drove past a string of places she had visited with her late husband.

Stewart said: "With everyone who has lost a partner, they know anything can remind you of them and we were going past many places where she had happy times with John."

The trial continues.

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