Helen Bailey disappeared three months ago, after taking her dachshund for a walk
Helen Bailey disappeared three months ago, after taking her dachshund for a walk Hertfordshire Police

Children's author Helen Bailey was secretly drugged for months by her fiancé before being strangled to death and dumped in a cesspit over her inheritance, a court has heard. The 51-year-old's body was found underneath the garage of her home in Royston, Hertfordshire, with her former partner Ian Stewart standing trial for her murder at St Albans Crown Court.

Bailey was last seen walking her miniature dachshund, Boris, on 11 April, before her body was found alongside her beloved pet in July. Stewart, 56, denies the murder of Bailey — who created the Electra Brown series for teenagers and was worth almost £4m ($4.86m).

The couple met online after Bailey's husband, John Sinfield, died in 2011, and they had bought the house together for around £1.5m. The couple were due to marry "imminently" before her death.

Prosecutors say that Stewart killed Bailey in a "cynically executed murder that had money as its driving motive", according to the BBC. The Crown says that Stewart suffocated her to obtain the house and "substantial financial advantage" in the event of Bailey's death before the wedding.

Prosecuting Stuart Trimmer QC, said, it was "a long-planned, deliberate killing, a cynically executed murder that had money as its driving motive."

A jury heard how in the hours after allegedly killing her, Stewart had amended a monthly standing order from Bailey's account into his from £600 to £4,000. And despite Bailey being missing, he still twice asked for copies of her Will.

It was said during the hearing that Stewart would have benefitted from "£1.8m in addition to the sum of the main Royston house and the second home in Broadstairs", Trimmer said. The jury heard that Stewart had been giving Bailey sleeping pills for months. Zoplicone, used to treat in insomnia was found in her system.

It was alleged that on the day of Bailey's disappearance Stewart was seen dumping a "large white object", believed to be a duvet at a refuse tip, it was stated. Four days later Stewart reported Bailey missing before joining searches looking for the Newcastle-born writer.

Stewart is charged with murder, fraud, preventing lawful burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice. He denies all six charges. The trial is expected to last seven weeks.