Man who was convicted for murdering his girlfriend appears in court on a different charge of killing his wife six years earlier

The man convicted of murdering children's author Helen Bailey after hiding her body in a drain under their mansion appeared in court this week accused of killing his wife six years earlier.

Ian Stewart was jailed for life with a minimum term of 34 years at St Albans Crown Court in 2017 after a jury convicted him of killing his 51-year-old partner, who wrote the Electra Brown series of books.

The couple lived in a large detached house in Royston, Hertfordshire, where, in July 2016, her remains were found in a cesspit under the garage - four months after she vanished. She had been drugged and suffocated.

Stewart, now 59, has now been charged with the murder of his wife Diane Stewart, aged 47, in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire on June 25 2010. An inquest at the time concluded the mother of two of his children had died of natural causes as a result of epilepsy.

He made a brief appearance before Judge Michael Kay QC at St Albans Crown Court. No plea was taken. He told Ian Stewart he would be remanded in custody.

The judge said there will be a plea hearing on Monday September 21. No date for a trial was set.

Tragically, Diane's mother Noreen Lem passed away aged 88 before Stewart was charged with her daughter's murder. She is believed to have died of pneumonia last year.

Diane's brother Chris Lem, 60, said: 'We just want justice to take its course.'

A friend of Noreen said: 'You can imagine how distressing it [the investigation] was for her.

'She was upset, especially as she had no reason to suspect anything until Helen was murdered.'

The prosecution asked for the judge to make a Contempt Order, in an attempt to prevent a future jury knowing he had a previous conviction for murder.

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