The tragic story of Helen Bailey's murder shows how easily an unscrupulous character can fool a lonely romantic

At 49, I met and married a man within three months. It was a disaster, and I quickly realised I’d been hopelessly naïve. Sometimes the dream gets in the way of reality

Janet Street-Porter
Friday 24 February 2017 17:20
Comments
Helen Bailey pictured with her beloved dachshund Boris
Helen Bailey pictured with her beloved dachshund Boris

A successful middle-aged woman was murdered by a partner she trusted implicitly. Helen Bailey’s story is shocking because it reveals how little she really knew about her partner of five years. How can such an intelligent person be so oblivious to the dark side of her lover’s personality?

Bailey and Ian Stewart met through a Facebook group for the bereaved, and it must have seemed that they had so much in common. Stewart sent Bailey thousands of passionate emails and texts, and she nicknamed him her GGHW (Gorgeous Grey-Haired Widower). Now, he has been convicted of her brutal murder, sentenced to life imprisonment, and the police have announced they are re-examining the death of his first wife.

Sadly, stories of fortysomething women (there are more middle-aged singletons than ever) falling prey to unscrupulous men are all too common. Anna Rowe, like Helen Bailey, was in her forties when she met a man who called himself “Antony Ray” on the dating app Tinder. The dashing Ray pursued her for 14 months, promising marriage. It turns out he was married with children, and had another life she knew nothing about.

Anna Rowe has not been harmed physically, but her pride and sense of worth have been trashed – she feels she was used “like a personal hotel with benefits” and would like to see online dating fraud, including “catfishing”, treated as a criminal offence.

If you’re middle-aged, single and a bit lonely, it’s so easy to hope that the person you’ve just met is “the one” you’ll spend the rest of your life with. At 49, I had a similar experience. I met a man at a party – it turned out he was a gatecrasher. Within three months, we got married. Soon, I discovered I knew nothing about this person at all. It was a disaster.

Ian Stewart found guilty of Helen Bailey murder

I had been totally naïve, and felt utterly ashamed. To this day I cannot explain my actions; they were totally out of character. Sometimes the dream of being part of a couple makes you lose your natural sense of caution.

It’s hard to see how any law can prevent deception when it involves wounded pride, rather than physical or mental abuse, which is already covered by existing legislation. I’m all for middle-aged romance – but sadly it’s important that women remain on their guard.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in