Home Crime Ian Stewart: the narcissistic serial killer who fooled everyone – The Guardian

Ian Stewart: the narcissistic serial killer who fooled everyone – The Guardian

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Ian Stewart: the narcissistic serial killer who fooled everyone – The Guardian

Analysis: psychologists suggest how ‘parasitic’ killer was capable of murdering two women and getting away with it for years
Last modified on Thu 10 Feb 2022 00.12 EST
Ian Stewart’s ability to murder his first wife and resume a normal existence, going on to murder another partner, is beyond the comprehension of most.
The cold duplicity of his actions would lead many to ask how was he capable of such deceit.

Forensic psychologists and criminologists have given their view on why Stewart was able to commit such awful crimes.
Emma Kenny, a psychologist and TV presenter, said it was clear Stewart was an “organised serial killer”.
She said it was possible for killers such as Stewart to “coexist perfectly in the world around you” as their lack of empathy allows them to be “very good at being a chameleon”.
Kenny, who has her own YouTube true crime series, told the Guardian: “Quite often, if you’re an organised killer you might be someone who has held down a decent job or maintained a successful relationship, a monogamous relationship, they can often be someone you would want to spend time with, successful with friendships, charming … that’s what is so disconcerting about it.”
Kenny, who appeared in an episode of the true crime series What the Killer Did Next about Ian Stewart’s murder of his fiancee, the author Helen Bailey, said he was a “narcissistic” killer.
“They ask ‘what is it I need for my life’ and ‘how can this work for me’. If something is working for them, they may carry on as normal. If they see something they desire and a person is a pawn to get that … let’s say life insurance … then they may see that person as not being required any more,” Kenny said.
Kerry Daynes, a consultant forensic psychologist of more than 25 years, working in prisons, secure hospitals, courts and police stations, told the Guardian that Stewart’s behaviour could be explained by what is known as “cognitive distortion”, what she labels “mental gymnastics” that help people justify their actions.
Daynes said this is a process most of us experience – she gives an example of someone on a diet making themselves feel comfortable and guilt-free about eating a slice of chocolate cake.
But in Stewart’s case this twisted logic was taken to the extreme – to justify the killing of not one but two women.
Daynes, author of autobiographical books What Lies Buried and The Dark Side of The Mind, said: “They make all kinds of cognitive distortions, they distort their thinking in order to give themselves permission to offend.
“It doesn’t necessary make any logical sense – they know what they’re doing yet they’re able to compartmentalise.
“So during his relationship with Helen Bailey at times he was able to simply live in the moment, actually enjoy the relationship, go through the motions and yet knowing what he was going to do and somewhere along the line he felt he was deserving of the money he would inherit.”
Daynes, who appears on Faking It, the Discovery UK show about high-profile criminal cases where people claim in public they are innocent about a crime they have committed, said thinking he had got away with the murder of his first wife, Diane Stewart, would have given Stewart the confidence to set his sights on a wealthier target – Helen Bailey.
She added: “This is somebody who has been able to live with it because he thinks he’s been successful, he’s been successful and he’s gone about planning it again, there’s no obvious remorse there and that’s what makes this so chilling.”
She went on: “He clearly views women as commodities and at some point in his marriage, he started viewing his first wife as a commodity and thinking about what life would be like without her and what he would stand to gain from that.”
“He’s always quite parasitic, averse to hard working life, he’s viewed these women not as human beings but as meal tickets.”
Daynes said it was not unusual for men to kill their partners, with a woman killed by a current or former partner every three days, but the level of calculation in Stewart’s made it very unusual.
“It’s very chilling because of the level of premeditation when it comes to Helen Bailey,” she said. “I think he’s somebody who has got a great sense of entitlement, he’s owed a living really, you see that in that he’s quite parasitic.”

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