The “wicked” fiance of the children’s author whose body was found in a cesspit has been jailed for a minimum of 34 years.
Ian Stewart, 56, spent weeks poisoning Helen Bailey with prescription sedatives before smothering her in a “heinous” 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 murderous computer expert, who refused to attend the hearing, to life with a minimum term of 34 years.
He said: “I am firmly of the view that you currently pose a real danger to women with whom you form a relationship.”
A jury found Stewart, of Baldock Road, Royston, Hertfordshire, guilty in a unanimous verdict of murder, fraud, preventing a lawful burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice.
He is likely to “end his days behind bars” due to a litany of health problems which have dogged him for decades, his defence counsel said on Wednesday.
The judge told Stewart: “Whilst we will never know whether you may have had some additional motive for killing the woman who loved you and wanted to be your wife, I am in no doubt this is a clear case of a murder done in the expectation of gain with aggravating features which make it difficult to imagine a more heinous crime.”
For months, Stewart spun a complex tale of deception about the disappearance of his bride-to-be, whom he claimed had abruptly left for “space”.
His deceit culminated with a fantastical tale of a kidnap plot by two men named Nick and Joe, whom he blamed for Ms Bailey’s death.
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, later her multimillion-pound estate.
After the pair moved into a £1.5 million home together, the avaricious predator slowly began slipping her his prescription anti-insomnia medication.
Then, once she had been stupefied by the drugs, he killed her on April 11 last year.