Murder-accused husband Ian Stewart tried CPR on wife Diane before calling 999

  • Listen to the 999 made by Ian Stewart

A man accused of murdering his wife told a jury that he returned from a shopping trip to find her collapsed in the garden.

Ian Stewart said told Huntingdon Crown Court in evidence he had tried to resuscitate her and contact neighbours before dialling for an ambulance - a call which has previously been played to the jury.

The 61-year old is accused of killing Diane Stewart, 47, at their home in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, in 2010.

Stewart told the court that the couple's elder son, Jamie, had his driving test on June 25 and left that morning, while their younger son, Oliver, was at school.

The defendant said he drove to Tesco, intending to get French sticks and pate to "celebrate" after Jamie's driving test.

Diane Stewart. Credit: Family photo

He said he realised while at the supermarket that he had forgotten his wallet, returned home to look for it and found his wife in the garden.

"I saw Diane just crumpled on the floor," he said.

Stewart, giving evidence as his two sons listened from the public gallery, said: "The first thing I did was try to get her in the recovery position. That was hard. I couldn't get her legs out from under her."

He said he "tried to clear her mouth", adding: "How do you describe it...sick, just a mess, basically froth."

Amjad Malik QC, defending, asked Stewart: "Was she breathing?"

He replied: "I don't know, but I didn't think so at that point."

Stewart said he "put her on her back to put her in the position for CPR" and then did "30 compressions and then mouth-to-mouth".

Mr Malik asked: "A really silly question - have you any idea how long that took?"

Stewart said: "The straight answer is no. At the end of it I was exhausted."

'I was trying to save her life'

Stewart said a doctor and a nurse lived in the house opposite theirs and he went to get help from them.

He said he was "obviously panicking" and "had left Diane on her own at this time", but returned to her when there was no answer.

"Diane was still lying there so I tried CPR again," he said. "More froth came out. Because of the froth I thought she was breathing at that stage. I thought she was still alive."

Asked how long he did CPR for, he said: "I don't know. I know when I finished that I was worn out. That's when I went off again and made the 999 call."

He said he then fetched a cordless phone from the house and dialled 999, telling operators his wife had had a fit.

He told jurors he "never, ever saw Diane fit" but she did have epilepsy.

Asked by Mr Malik if he was "trying to help Diane", Stewart replied: "I was trying to save her life, obviously trying to get her to breathe again."

Author Helen Bailey was killed by Ian Stewart, who was convicted for the crime in 2017 Credit: Hertfordshire Constabulary/PA

'We were in love'

Mrs Stewart's cause of death was recorded in 2010 as sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (Sudep).

Police began an investigation after a jury found Stewart guilty in 2017 of murdering his fiancee, children's author Helen Bailey, the year before.

Asked to describe his feelings towards his wife in June 2010, Stewart said: "We were in love, very happy, very much so.

"It was, just looking back, too perfect really, too good." Stewart went on: "I don't think we ever had a big fallout, ever."

But he said they "would talk... we did things like 'You haven't done the washing up', 'Who's going to do the shopping?', that sort of thing".

Stewart denies murdering his wife. The trial continues.