A priest has admitted stealing tens of thousands of pounds donated to his church in County Durham
Fiance Of Northumberland Author Guilty Of Her Murder
The partner of Helen Bailey, a children's author from Northumberland, has been jailed for at least 34 years for her murder.
Ian Stewart, 56, spent weeks poisoning Helen Bailey with prescription sedatives before smothering her in a plot motivated by greed last year.
The 51-year-old Electra Brown writer was dragged into the tank of filth deep below the couple's luxury home, where she remained hidden for three months.
Her devoted dachshund Boris was found dead at her side.
Following a seven-week trial at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Andrew Bright sentenced the computer expert, who refused to attend the hearing, to life with a minimum term of 34 years.
"I am firmly of the view that you currently pose a real danger to women with whom you form a relationship.''
UPDATED 22nd February 2017
The partner of Helen Bailey, a children's author from Northumberland, has been found guilty of drugging and killing her.
Ian Stewart secretly spent months poisoning the Electra Brown writer with his sedatives, smothering her in April last year.
The lifeless 51-year-old was dragged into a cesspit hidden deep below their luxury Hertfordshire home, where her body lay undiscovered for three months.
Following a six-week trial at St Albans Crown Court, a jury of five women and seven men found Stewart, 56, of Baldock Road, Royston, Hertfordshire, guilty of murder, fraud, three counts of perverting the course of justice and preventing a lawful burial.
Police said the "sudden, unexpected'' death of Stewart's first wife, Diane - who was found in the couple's garden in 2010 - will now be re-examined.
Stewart scoped out the vulnerable widow on the internet in 2011 - earning his way into her trust and later her £3.3 million estate after launching a "love-bombing'' offensive.
Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer told his trial
"She was being grossly deceived by someone who was preying on her."
Over many weeks, Stewart secretly fed Ms Bailey his prescription anti-insomnia drug, Zopiclone, possibly by slipping it into her morning scrambled eggs.
She soon became panicked by her deteriorating state of mind, searching online for terms such as "can't stop falling asleep'' and expressing concern to loved ones.
A pillowcase found next to the author's body led the prosecution to suggest Stewart used a pillow to smother her while she was sedated.
Ms Bailey was finally found submerged in a tank of human sewage underneath the couple's garage on July 15 last year, along with her dog Boris.
Stewart, wearing a light blue top, remained emotionless in the dock as the verdicts were delivered by the jury foreman.
The author's shattered family welcomed the verdict, but said her death had left them lingering in a ``long shadow of loss''.
Ms Bailey's brother, John, sat in court for almost every day of her killer's trial, while their elderly mother Eileen broke down as she gave her testimony.
The family said in a statement:
"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.''
Stewart sparked a major search effort after feeding Ms Bailey's 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.''
Stewart was branded a man who "lacks any remorse and empathy'' by prosecutor Charles White.
A financial inquiry will be held to ensure Stewart does not profit from the crime.
He will be sentenced on Thursday.
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