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Author murder accused grinned at police queries, trial told

By Jack Hardy

The fiance of children's author Helen Bailey "grinned" at police as they attempted to question him about her sudden disappearance, a court heard yesterday.

Ian Stewart (56) from Royston, Hertfordshire, is accused of drugging and killing the writer in a financially motivated plot last year.

In the months after she vanished, the defendant was said to have followed police "everywhere" as they scoured the property where her body lay hidden.

It was claimed he told detectives he "couldn't be bothered" to answer questions and became increasingly hostile to their presence at his home.

Jurors in his trial at St Albans Crown Court were also told of the moment 51-year-old Ms Bailey's body was found in a cesspit under her home.

Stewart denies murder, preventing a burial, fraud and perverting the course of justice.

DC Hollie Daines dealt with the defendant on several occasions after Ms Bailey went missing and repeatedly told him they needed to carry out a more detailed interview, the court heard.

She said: "He said he wasn't feeling well, he said he couldn't be bothered and he just seemed quite blase and non-committal. He said officers made him uncomfortable and asked questions... he felt he should know the answers to (but) didn't."

Between Ms Bailey's disappearance and a police search of the home in April last year, a Jeep was moved from the driveway and parked over a septic tank's hatch, the court was told.

Sergeant Stephen Oliphant said that when the vehicle was moved, the cover was lifted and a specialist drainage team arrived.

He added: "(One specialist) came back with a hoe, handed that to me and said, 'Here, use that to help break the crust of the surface'. Once I moved the crust, a body came to the surface and I was able to confirm it was a full body and was intact."

During the initial search of the address Stewart and Ms Bailey shared, the defendant was said to have monitored police movements closely and was "really anxious" during their visits.

Sgt Goodyear said that when a passport was found in Ms Bailey's office, "(his) demeanour changed... he was shocked and said, 'Where did you find that?'"

Stewart also told officers Ms Bailey had been stressed about their wedding and had not been on medication, the court heard.

He told police that on the day of Ms Bailey's disappearance, he disposed of a blood-stained duvet she had loaded into his car to take to the dump.

The defendant claimed the blood came from an abdominal wound he sustained during an operation.

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