Helen Bailey was a British author born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne who wrote the books in the Crazy World of Electra Brown with her target audience is aimed at teenagers. In her home, there was a note found stating she will be staying at the couples family home in Broadstairs but the police later established that this was not the case. Her husband, Ian Stewart was arrested on the 11th July 2016 on the suspicion of murder and disposal of the body by he never spoke in the interview and was then released on bail. He was then arrested again on the 16th July 2016 and charged for preventing the course of justice and preventing a lawful burial after remains of a human were found in a cesspit on the 15th July in the authors home and were kept in custody until he appeared at St. Albans crown court on 19th July. In 22nd January 2017, the jury found Ian Stewart guilty of Helen Bailey’s murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years in prison.
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The officers started their investigation by asking individuals who were close to the victim information about her and where she was last seen. The investigators were told by her mother and brother, Eileen and John Bailey that her disappearance is out of character. They also received information on several sightings Bailey was seen by other individuals such as neighbours and friends. on the 15th July 2016, four days after the first arrest, police investigators searched the home of Helen Bailey in Royston and reported remains of a human and a dog found in a cesspit in the couples home. Ian Stewart was then arrested for the prevention of the course of justice as hiding the body will result in delaying the body recover and forensic investigations which will occur to find any evidence of the individual who killed Helen Bailey (Beauregard and Martineau 2014) and preventing a lawful burial for Helen Bailey.
One key challenge the agencies may have to face whilst the investigation is ongoing is determining the type of response of the missing persons call out. When a missing person is reported the police is to decide on which risk identification does the report fall under, either low, medium, high or no risk at all. If the risk is low, police are sent to the home of the individual who filed the report for a routine check to make sure the person reported missing has not been harmed, if the risk is medium “the earliest available resource” will be sent out to respond to the call and other agencies may be used to find the missing person and if the risk is high then there is an immediate response sent out to deal with the report. If there is no risk at all, the police aim to locate the individual and agree on a time to reassess the risk [College of Policing, 2016]. In the Helen Bailey case, the missing person response was identified as a medium risk at the start and the first available police went to support the person reporting as Ian Stewart reported she was “missing since Monday and not contacted anyone…she left a note, she said.. she said in the note something like I need space and time alone, I’m going to Broadstairs, please don’t contact me in any way” [The Guardian, 2017] because she has been missing since Monday and no one has been in contact with her since then and her husband is worried about her after their alleged argument made the risk identification level was medium. This risk identification level may have had an impact on the investigations on the house as the investigation team did not search the house thoroughly, it was only three months after when they searched the house again three months after and found the remains of Bailey and her dog in the cesspit of the home.
Another challenge which the agencies may have to face whilst investigating was the gathering of the information and evidence to find the suspect and convict them. This would have been a challenge as Ian Stewart was hiding key evidence in this investigation which was: the remains of Helen Bailey and her dog, not giving the investigators Bailey’s mobile phone and refusing to give his own phone to her “in case she contacts him” and clearing the history of her web searches on her laptop. Stewarts failure to cooperate with agencies involved in the investigation fall under preventing the course of justice because the investigators have minimal evidence to use when convicting the suspect. Helen Bailey’s phone connected to the Wi-Fi home router in their holiday home in Broadstairs around the same time Stewart visited the house which made the police aware that Bailey’s phone was with Stewart and after taking Bailey’s laptop as evidence, the investigators found that the web search history tampered as they were deleted but was managed to be restored. The searches consisted of Helen asking questions on google as to why she was always feeling tired. Stewart also gave false information in the court claiming that two men named Joe and Nick had kidnapped Bailey, asked for a ransom of £500,000 and left Bailey and her dog in the cesspit of the couples home.
A national charity named Women’s aid published a ‘femicide census, profiles of women killed by men’ in December 2016 which collected information on women aged 14 or over who have suffered fatal violence from a male individual ending in a result of the death of the female. The census collected incidents which occurred at the beginning of 2009 and the end of 2015. This census found that 936 women in England and Wales were murdered by men. 64% of those women were murdered by males who were known to be the females current or former partner, 152 women were killed by their former partners within the first year after their separation and most cases, the murder weapon was a sharp object. This census was carried out to analyse how many women are killed by men within England and Wales and highlight the threat women may have in their everyday lives, for example, domestic abuse and intimidation by men (could be a partner of a family relative). With Helen Bailey adding to the total of women being abused and murdered by men there were no laws which were changed because of the death of Helen Bailey. There are policies already implemented by the government such as ‘the code of practice for victims of crime’ which was enforced 10th December 2013 which helps the victims of abuse to get the support they need at the right time however, this policy only helps once the abuse is taken place and wouldn’t help the reduce the number of men killing females in the UK. A law should be enforced in every country to help reduce the killing of women but only a few countries have these laws for example Tunisia. Tunisia had one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the world but has recently had a law put in place to protect females from any abuse from a male individual making it easier to prosecute an individual who abuses women.
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Another policy improvement which could have occurred after this case was close is the proximity of the owner of the home whilst having their house searched. When the house was first being searched, Stewart first refused to allow the investigators of the case to search their home. He then allowed them to enter the home of the couple and then said “If searches are going to take place, you wouldn’t find anything in the garage. If anything, the devices will be in the house” [The Guardian, 2017]. In this search, the investigators did not thoroughly search the garage as they did not find the remains of Bailey until the second search of the home. Because Stewart was behaving aggressively when first asked to allow the investigators to enter and search the home, the reason why the garage was not thoroughly search may have been because they thought they would be stepping over any boundaries as Stewart made it known he doesn’t want them to search the garage is it would a ‘waste of time’. A law which could then be implemented could be the owner of the home is only allowed to speak to the head of the search team only. This law could then reduce the chances of the investigators being misled by homeowners and they can entirely concentrate on the task at hand which is finding any evidence which could be at that home.
- Association of Chief Police Officers. (2002). Manual of Guidance for the Management of Missing Persons. London: ACPO.
- BBC News. (2016). Helen Bailey disappearance: Man bailed by police. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-36778812
- College of Policing. (2016). Major investigation and public protection. Retrieved from https://www.app.college.police.uk/app-content/major-investigation-and-public-protection/missing-persons/#risk-assessment-and-response
- Gardiner, L. (2017). The Helen Bailey case: a timely reminder. Retrieved from https://raydensolicitors.co.uk/blog/the-helen-bailey-case-a-timely-reminder/
- ITV Report. (2017). The Helen Bailey trial: Reflections on an extraordinary case. Retrieved from https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2017-02-23/the-helen-bailey-trial-reflections-on-an-extraordinary-case/
- Jiwani, Y., Young, M. L. (2006) Missing and Murdered Women: Reproducing Marginality in News Discourse. Vancouver: Canadian Journal of Communication Corporation.
- Roberts, R. (2017). Tunisia: ‘Landmark’ new law gives women protection from rape and domestic violence. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/tunisia-law-women-protect-rape-domestic-violence-north-africa-landmark-rights-abuse-sexual-a7864846.html
- Savva, A. (2018). Murder victim Helen Bailey’s house where she was buried in a cesspit is up for sale. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/helen-bailey-house-sale-royston-15280732
- Telegraph Reporters. (2018). Killer of children’s author Helen Bailey quizzed by police over death of his first wife. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/22/killer-childrens-author-helen-bailey-quizzed-police-death-first/
- The Guardian. (2017). Helen Bailey’s fiance told police they would ‘find nothing in garage’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/25/helen-bailey-murder-trial-ian-stewart-garage
- The Guardian. (2017). Ian Stewart’s 999 call reporting Helen Bailey missing – audio. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2017/feb/22/ian-stewart-999-call-helen-bailey-murder-missing-audio
- Women’s Aid. (2017). The Femicide Census. Retrieved from https://1q7dqy2unor827bqjls0c4rn-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/The-Femicide-Census-Jan-2017.pdf
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