Just two months before children’s author Helen Bailey went missing she revealed intimate details about how deeply she had fallen in love with the man who would murder her.
In a blog for The Huffington Post UK in February last year, Bailey recalled how six months after losing her husband John in 2011, she found herself falling for a widower she had met via an online bereavement group.
Standing in the women’s underwear department in Marks and Spencer, Bailey confessed to having “a seriously X-rated thought” about Ian Stewart.
“I stood amongst the lace-trimmed bras, horrified, sweating with guilt,” she wrote in the blog post.
On Thursday, Stewart was sentenced to 34 years for the murder of his fiancée, whose body he dumped in a cesspit at their £1.3million Hertfordshire home.
Just weeks before her death, millionaire Bailey, who had changed her will in 2014 to make Stewart the main beneficiary, had spoken glowingly about their relationship, stating: “Far from feeling strange to hold a different hand, it felt absolutely wonderful.”
Noting Stewart arrived not on “a white horse” but in a battered red Ford Mondeo estate, Bailey, 51, wrote: “At first, I kept our relationship quiet, not through shame that I’d begun to date before the first anniversary of John’s death had passed, but because if I had fallen in love too quickly with the wrong man I wanted to make that mistake in private.”
She added: “It’s now over four years since Ian and I met. Two years ago we bought a house together. We plan to get married.
“New love doesn’t erase old loss and cure grief, but brings with it complicated emotions and painful reminders. It’s not easy living in a household that has only come together because of the death of other people, but losing those we love has made us cherish what we have now.
“I was never going to fall in love again, and no one is more surprised than me that I did.”
Police have also said they will re-examine the death of Stewart’s first wife Diane in 2010. She died after an epileptic seizure in the garden of their home in Cambridgeshire.
In court, it was revealed Stewart, 56, had been plying Bailey with sleeping pills for months before killing her, probably by suffocation.
During the three months Bailey was missing, Stewart sparked a major search effort after telling her loved ones the lie that she had left abruptly to seek some “space” at her seaside cottage in Broadstairs, Kent.
Stewart was also convicted of fraud, three counts of perverting the course of justice and preventing a lawful burial of a body.
He also paid for flyers and attended a dog walk as part of the search effort for her, the trial heard.
During earlier police searches of the property, Stewart concealed the cesspit he had hidden her body in by hiding its opening by parking a car on it.
Bailey’s mother Eileen Bailey told the trial she was becoming increasingly concerned about her daughter’s deteriorating state of mind and repeated forgetful incidents before the murder.
In the weeks before Bailey vanished, she confided in her mother about inadvertently leaving her dog on the beach, taking an item scanner from a supermarket and not being able to recognise her hands on a computer keyboard.
Speaking to the court via video-link, with a framed picture of the author visible behind her shoulder, Mrs Bailey told the court: “That really worried me.”
She added: “She just had such a good memory beforehand.”
A week before her murder, Bailey phoned her mother, deeply worried after falling asleep for five hours - despite having a full night’s rest.
Asked about her views on the couple’s relationship, Eileen Bailey said: “Well, I felt uneasy about it, latterly I was quite unhappy - mainly because of Helen’s state of mind.”
After the verdict, Bailey’s brother John Bailey said: “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.”