Five years after losing her husband in a tragic accident on holiday, children’s author Helen Bailey was murdered and her body dumped callously in the cesspit beneath her own home.
The 51-year-old was killed by her fiancé Ian Stewart – the man Bailey loved and had written into her will ahead of their planned nuptials.
On Thursday Stewart, who met Bailey via an online bereavement group, was sentenced to 34 years in prison. He refused to attend the hearing.
Tonight, Channel 5 will examine the “despicable” case in the documentary Murdered By My Fiancé.
The show will screen footage of Stewart, now 56, being arrested on suspicion of murder as well as his subsequent police interviews.
Viewers will also hear his original call to the police to report Bailey missing and interviews with her close friends and family.
The programme examines how Stewart’s behaviour ultimately led to his arrest and his conviction for murder, with analysis from psychologists and experts.
A grieving widow
Author of the Electra Brown series of teen novels, Bailey joined a bereavement support group as she tried to recover from the death of her husband John Sinfield in Barbados in 2011.
Just two months before she went missing in April 2016, Bailey wrote glowingly about falling in love with the man who would murder her, for The Huffington Post UK.
She revealed: “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.”
‘A wicked and despicable man’
Father-of-two Stewart’s first wife Diane died in 2010 after suffering an epileptic seizure in the garden of their home in Cambridgeshire.
He began exchanging emails with Bailey six months after she became a widow.
The pair became close but things faltered after Bailey “gave him a speech about how I didn’t want a relationship ever again”.
After a disastrous date in which Bailey joked “it’s still up for debate whether I pushed him out of the taxi or he jumped, but what was clear to both of us was that it was too much, too soon,” she retreated once more, before finally uniting with him for the final time.
During Stewart’s trial it emerged he had plied Bailey with sleeping pills for months before killing her, probably by suffocating her.
He disposed of her body in the cesspit under the £1.3million Hertfordshire home the couple shared, parking his car over the opening to conceal it from police.
Hours after the murder, he illicitly boosted a standing order to himself from her account, earning him an extra £12,000 over the three months following her disappearance.
He had already become the chief heir to her riches, standing to gain around £1.8 million from her investment portfolio, plus the value of their home in Royston, Hertfordshire, and her coastal cottage in Kent.
During the three months Bailey was missing, Stewart sparked a major search effort after feeding her loved ones the lie that she had left abruptly to seek some “space” at her seaside cottage in Broadstairs, Kent.
Detective Chief Inspector Jerome Kent said: “To kill somebody was despicable enough, but to dispose of her in the way he did and lie to everyone including his own children shows how wicked and despicable that man is.”
She was eventually found – alongside the body of her beloved dachshund Boris – submerged in a tank of human sewage under the couple’s garage on 15 July last year.
Detectives are to probe the sudden death of Stewart’s first wife, who was found in the couple’s garden in 2010.
An inquest at the time concluded she died of natural causes from a “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy”.
Her body was cremated, police said.
Det Kent said: “There is not a murder investigation into Diane Stewart, there is a re-examination of a sudden, unexpected death. It is only right that I would look back on somebody’s past.”
Murdered By My Fiancé will air on Channel 5 at 10pm on Thursday 23 February