A court has heard that the fiancé of popular children’s author Helen Bailey drugged her and suffocated her in a bid to lay his hands on the £4m fortune she had made through her work, and her £1.5m home.

Fifty six year old Ian Stewart is accused of secretly drugging her with sleeping pills in the months before her death, before hiding her body in a cesspit under the garage of their plush Hertfordshire home last year. He also stands accused of killing Ms Bailey’s pet dachshund Boris before throwing him into the tank with her.

Stewart is then said to have told police officers that his lover had vanished after taking the dog for a walk. It is understood that under the terms of her will, he stood to get £1.8m along with the house and a second holiday home in Kent. The court has also been told that he changed a regular monthly standing order coming from her bank account into their joint account from £600 to £4,000.

Denying all charges

Ms Bailey was well known as the author of the Daisy Davenport and Electra Brown children’s books. She was first reported missing in April last year, and Stewart was arrested three months later. He is facing charges of murder, fraud, preventing lawful burial and perverting course of justice. He is denying all of the charges, and the trial continues.

Investigating her appearance, police said they were concerned that Ms Bailey had come to harm. Meanwhile, her fiancé made a media appeal, saying that he was shattered by her disappearance. The pair had met through a Facebook bereavement group, having both lost their respective partners. Stewart’s wife had died in 2010, while Ms Bailey lost her husband of 22 years, John Sinfield, when he drowned as she watched on helplessly from a beach.