Sentencing at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Bright QC said Stewart had spun a “calculated and callous series of lies” in a bid to convince police, relatives and friends that his bride-to-be had genuinely gone missing.
Ms Bailey had been “excitedly making arrangements” for the pair’s wedding while Stewart was “planning how to kill her, hide her body and explain her disappearance as a case of an anxious woman running off because she could no longer cope with the more stressful aspects of her life”, the judge said.
‘Danger to women’
Stewart, who wooed the widow after meeting her via a bereavement website, employed a “significant degree of planning and premeditation” before the killing, the court heard.
During his trial, the prosecution said Stewart had played “the long game” in order to inherit Ms Bailey’s fortune, made from the publication of more than 20 books.
He plied her with the sleeping drug zopiclone in the weeks leading up to her death, and killed her beloved dog to make his “wicked lies…sound credible to those who knew her well”, Judge Bright QC said.
As he handed Stewart a life sentence, the judge said financial gain had been the “principal motive” for the killing.
“You knew Helen Bailey to be a wealthy woman but were not content with having to share in her wealth as her husband. Instead you wanted it all for yourself,” the judge said.
“I am firmly of the view that you currently pose a real danger to women with whom you form a relationship,” Judge Bright QC said.
Ms Bailey penned the Electra Brown series of teen novels, and was also praised for her blog – Planet Grief – in which she talked about the death of her husband John Sinfield.
“The world has lost a gifted author and her family and friends will have to live the rest of their lives with the deep sense of loss your wicked crime has inflicted upon them,” the judge told Stewart.
As a result of the case, detectives are now re-examining the death of Stewart’s wife Diane, who died after an epileptic seizure at the couple’s home in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, in 2010.
Stewart, who refused to appear via videolink from prison, was also found guilty of preventing Ms Bailey’s lawful burial, fraud and three counts of perverting the course of justice.
He had denied murder, claiming two men called Nick and Joe had kidnapped Ms Bailey in April last year and blackmailed him for £500,000.
But jurors took just over six hours to convict him after hearing seven weeks of evidence.
Simon Russell Flint, defending, said during his mitigation: “The likelihood is, given his state of health, the sentence has a like-effect of a whole-life order.
“There is every prospect and likelihood Mr Stewart will end his days behind bars.”
Highways England has closed the Dartford Crossing linking Kent and Essex, the Orwell Bridge on the A14 in Suffolk and the M48 Severn Bridge because of strong winds
The M80 has been reopened after earlier closures in both directions due to snow, but motorists have been warned of continuing disruption
Heathrow has flagged at least 77 flights as cancelled on its website and says its schedule has been reduced by 10% because of the weather
Aer Lingus has cancelled 19 of its 111 flights between the UK and the Republic of Ireland
Gale-force winds have led to the cancellation of ferries and flights between the Isle of Man and the UK
Speed limits of 50mph have been imposed on several train lines affecting Arrival Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Trains, Grand Central, Great Northern, South West, and Southeastern services
A number of trains have been cancelled from Euston station in London
The Port of Liverpool has been closed owing to strong winds
In pictures: Storm Doris hits the UK
Ambulance crews have been called to several casualties with people being injured by falling trees and debris as well as being blown over.
A spokesman said: “Sadly, it quickly became apparent that there was nothing that could be done to save her and she was confirmed dead at the scene.”
There are Met Office severe weather warnings of wind, snow and ice that combine to cover almost the entire UK.
Heathrow has advised passengers to check their flight status before travelling to the airport.
A spokeswoman said: “With Heathrow operating at more than 99% capacity, there are no gaps in the schedule that can be used for delayed flights and as a result some passengers travelling may experience disruption to their journeys.”
National Rail said fallen trees, objects caught in overhead wires, heavy rain, flooding and debris on tracks were causing delays to several services across the country.
Storm Doris also halted filming on the set of ITV soap Coronation Street, with a spokeswoman saying the weather had made outdoor filming “impossible” and it would have to be rescheduled.
And a tree-lined avenue in Northern Ireland which featured in Game Of Thrones has been damaged by the storm
One of the beech trees that make up the Dark Hedges in Co Antrim has fallen victim to high winds.
The severe gusts of winds are said to be caused by a “weather bomb” – a very intense area of low pressure which “explodes” when it travels underneath a powerful jet stream.
Senior meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said the storm would bring “very strong winds and gales”, and that the centre of Doris was expected to pass over into the North Sea at around lunchtime.
Snowfall is expected on higher ground in Scotland, affecting Falkirk, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway and the Lothian region.
Heavy rain is also likely across the UK, with some snow possible on high ground in parts of north Wales, north-west England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and East Anglia.
The strongest winds are expected to be “short-lived” and gone by the evening.
Forecasters say there is a risk of flooding in Northern Ireland, and possibly at lower levels in northern England and the south of Scotland.
However, the Environment Agency said it had not issued any flood warnings for the UK.
More rain and wind is expected to continue through to the weekend and into next week but will not reach the same level as Storm Doris.
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for ice affecting northern England, the Midlands, Northern Ireland and Scotland on Friday.
Have you been affected by the weather? Email email@example.com with your pictures, videos and experiences.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
Afzal Ashraf, a former counter-terrorism adviser to the United States in Iraq, told the BBC this incident demonstrated that “some of the people in Guantanamo Bay were up to no good”.
“It also throws into question some of the organisations that were supporting him, that brought him back [from Guantanamo].
“Some of them were associated a little too closely with this radical ideology, and they use the legal system – freedoms of speech, the importance of the rule of law – in order to subvert some of our systems in the UK and elsewhere.”
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the “pipeline” of British and European jihadists who once crossed the Turkish border into Syria, into IS-controlled territory, has now “pretty much dried up”.
He added: “Guantanamo Bay was incredibly bad in the ideological fight against extremism. It makes it very difficult for America, Britain and other countries whose nationals are there to maintain any kind of moral high ground, because they [detainees] were imprisoned without trial.
“And what do you do about the estimated 400 British jihadists who are still out there? If they don’t die on the battlefield, are they going to try and come back? How do you monitor them? Do you believe the people who say ‘I’ve turned my back on all of that’.
“Most people will probably want to do exactly that. Some, though, may have other ideas.”
According to figures published by the UK government last year, about 850 people regarded as a national security concern have gone to become fighters in the Middle East.
Of those, just under half have returned to the UK and approximately 15% are dead.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, and against all travel to large parts of Iraq.
“As all UK consular services are suspended in Syria and greatly limited in Iraq, it is extremely difficult to confirm the whereabouts and status of British nationals in these areas.”
The Supreme Court is to rule on whether an income barrier stopping thousands of British citizens from bringing a foreign spouse to the UK is lawful.
As of 2012, Britons must earn more than £18,600 before a husband or wife from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can settle in the UK.
Critics claim 15,000 children have been separated from parents because of it.
The rule was introduced by the former coalition government to stop foreign spouses becoming reliant on taxpayers.
If the government loses, thousands of couples who currently live outside the UK could move to Britain.
‘Breaches family life’
The minimum income threshold, which also affects people settled in the UK as refugees, rises to £22,400 if they have a child who does not have British citizenship – and then by an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.
These thresholds replaced a previous, more general requirement to show the Home Office that the incoming partner would not be a drain on public resources and that the couple or family could adequately support themselves.
The current rules do not take into account the earnings of the overseas partner – even if they have higher qualifications, or are likely to be employed in higher-paid work than their British spouse.
The minimum income threshold does not apply to spouses from within the EEA.
In a series of test cases, affected couples argued that the rules breached their right to family life.
Two of the claimants, Abdul Majid and Shabana Javed, are British citizens who have partners who are Pakistani nationals.
The third claimant is a Lebanese refugee who cannot find suitable work in the UK despite his postgraduate qualifications. He says his similarly-qualified wife has high earning potential and speaks fluent English.
The final case concerns another recognised refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo whose wife has been barred from settling.
Council leaders are warning of deep cuts to services despite nearly every local authority in England planning to raise council tax in 2017.
Increases of up to 4.99% are expected across the country, but libraries, bin collections and other services will still face funding gaps.
The Local Government Association says the cost of care for increasing numbers of elderly people is forcing up bills.
The government insists it is giving more money to councils.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said local authorities had been given a “historic” four-year settlement, giving them the certainty they needed to plan ahead, with almost £200bn available “to provide the services that local people want”.
All councils in England can raise council tax by 1.99% in April without having a local referendum.
The 151 social care authorities can increase bills by an extra 3% as long as that money goes on social care.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says 147 of these have already agreed or are planning to raise the extra money. And three-quarters are set to introduce the maximum hike.
Some residents will see even higher rises, as council tax regulations say the cap is based on the average council tax across the area, rather than a maximum for each household.
However, the LGA says further cuts will still be needed as councils are being pushed “perilously close to the financial edge”.
Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe told the BBC: “To continue it is really looking like we’re cutting into the bones of services that matter to people.
“It’s not just social care. Things like roads, highways, bus services which are subsidised, libraries, access to leisure centres, waste services, children’s services as well.”
What’s the deal with council tax increases?
Why will there be a 4.99% rise?
All local authorities in England can raise council tax by up to 1.99% in April. Any higher, and they would need to hold a referendum to get residents to agree with the hike before they could put it in place.
But the 151 social care authorities can also increase bills by an extra 3%. This is the social care precept, introduced by George Osborne in 2015 to allow local authorities to raise extra money to specifically pay for social care.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says 147 of these have already agreed or are planning to raise the extra money. And three-quarters are set to introduce the maximum hike.
Added together, this means most people in England will be looking at a 4.99% rise in council tax in the coming year.
Some people will pay more as the 4.99% cap only has to be the “average” rise across the area. So for Swindon Borough Council, for example, householders in some council tax bands will see a 3.12% rise whilst others will see a 7.28% rise – with the average staying within the rules.
Will this rise cover local services?
Many councils say no and their issue stems from a change in the way local services are funded.
Councils were offered four-year settlements to help them plan ahead for the removal of the funding, and were told to change to a model where they used council tax and business rates collected locally to pay for services, rather than government grants.
By 2020, the grants will be phased out entirely.
But the LGA says councils are being pushed “perilously close to the financial edge” by the change and even with the extra money from their residents, they will still need to make cuts to balance the books.
What services could be hit?
As councils across England tighten their belts, there is a huge raft of services that could be squeezed further.
The services they provide range running recycling centres and organising bin collections through to tackling anti-social behaviour and controlling adoption services.
Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe said: “All of these services are done to local priorities to ensure we have got what people need when they need it.
“Year on year it is roads and highways and grass cutting that tops the list [of priorities] as these are things that people have to deal with every day.”
Even these priorities could be looking at cost savings, as well as children’s services, leisure centres, transport projects and whatever else each council is responsible for.
There is one particular area of rising costs faced by councils that is said to be having the biggest effect though.
Is the cost of social care to blame?
It is the area where most of the warnings are coming from.
Councils spent £16bn last year on services for elderly and disabled people after funding from central government was cut by a third, in real terms, during the last Parliament.
Ms Seccombe said an extra £1.3bn was needed for social care in the next financial year alone.
And while the council tax rises would raise about £600m, she said that would be swallowed up by paying higher wages to existing staff more when the National Living Wage comes into effect.
Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said social care faced a funding gap of £2.6bn by 2020.
“Extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care both now and in the future and the social care precept raises different amounts of money in different parts of the country,” he said.
“It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this crisis.”
Other individual councils have made the point too, including Surrey County Council, which toyed with raising council tax by 15% to help tackle the problem but decided against asking local people to vote.
David McNulty, the council’s chief executive, told the BBC that local services were “at breaking point.”
But the government insists it has increased funding for social care by an additional £900m, meaning councils will have £7.6bn of dedicated funding to spend over the four-year period.
What is happening elsewhere in the UK?
In Scotland, a nine year-long national council tax freeze comes to an end this year and councillors will have the power to raise the basic bill by as much as 3%.
Wales is facing similar pressures, especially with the cost of social care, but the country’s social services minister told BBC Wales that increasing council tax was not “fair” and “not an approach we’re taking”.
He was cleared in January 2015 of alleged offences with two of the girls.
A disciplinary panel found 17 of 20 allegations of unacceptable professional misconduct proved.
The hearing in Cardiff was told Mr Norbury, from Swansea, was a primary school teacher and a church deacon but exchanged flirty texts and met up with three teenagers, then aged as young as 15, between 2005 and 2010 for sexual activity.
He denied any sexual contact took place before the girls were 16, admitting some of the allegations but arguing they had mistakenly or deliberately got their dates wrong.
Case presenter Cadi Dewi said: “He had a unique level of charisma and boys and girls flocked to him.”
David Harris, representing Mr Norbury, told the hearing: “Whatever his character was up until 2010, he’s now a changed man,” and said he was now in a stable relationship.
Panel chairman Steve Powell said: “Mr Norbury showed no insight into his conduct and repeatedly ignored advice from colleagues.
“Though he admitted some allegations, he continued to deny others. In those denials we find he had lied.
“His conduct is fundamentally at odds with him continuing to work as a teacher.
“Although now in a stable relationship, his lack of insight means the committee cannot be satisfied there will be no repetition of this type of behaviour in future.”
A Swansea council spokesman said: “We welcome the decision of the panel. Their decision demonstrates we took appropriate action in dismissing Mr Norbury and referring him to the EWC ( Education Workforce Council).
“However, we are concerned about the processes which led to Mr Norbury receiving his reference, and have therefore commissioned an independent review.”