The predatory partner of children’s author Helen Bailey who was found dead in a cesspit was branded a “real danger to women” as he was jailed for 34 years for her murder.
Ian Stewart spent weeks poisoning the 51-year-old with prescription sedatives before smothering her last year in a “heinous” plot motivated by greed.
The Electra Brown writer was dragged into the tank of filth deep below the couple’s luxury home, where she remained hidden for three months.
A fresh police investigation into the death of the computer expert’s first wife has been launched in the wake of his conviction.
Following a seven-week trial at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Andrew Bright sentenced Stewart, who refused to attend the hearing, to life with a minimum term of 34 years.
He told him: “I am firmly of the view that you currently pose a real danger to women with whom you form a relationship.”
Besotted Ms Bailey had been excitedly planning a wedding with the man she referred to in her writing as “the Gorgeous, Grey-Haired Widower” when he killed her.
He first met the vulnerable widow on a Facebook group for the bereaved in 2011, showering her with affection to win his way into her trust and later her multimillion-pound estate.
After the couple moved into a £1.5 million home together, the avaricious predator slowly began slipping her his prescription anti-insomnia medication.
Knowing he was her chief heir – standing to gain £1.8 million in investments plus the value of two properties – he suffocated her with a pillow while she was “too drowsy to fight you off”, the judge said.
“She was so devoted to her dog Boris that you decided that you would also have to kill him if the wicked lies you planned to tell were to sound credible to those who knew her well,” he said.
Boris, a brown-coated miniature dachshund, was found dead next to his owner in the foul pool of human waste on July 15 2016.
An author who had worked on 22 titles, largely for a young adult audience, Ms Bailey was killed “at the height of her success as a writer”, the judge added.