SENIOR judges have heard challenges or appeals to the prison sentences of five killers, including the whole-life term of double murderer Ian Stewart.

Stewart, who was convicted of murdering his first wife six years before he went on to murder his fiancee, appealed against his life sentence at the Court of Appeal.

The 61-year-old, who did not attend the hearing, killed 51-year-old children’s author Helen Bailey, who grew up in Ponteland, in 2016, and was found guilty of her murder in 2017.

Helen's body was dumped in the cesspit of the £1.5 million home they shared in Royston in Hertfordshire. She was in the cesspit for three months before she was found.

READ MORE: Double murderer Ian Stewart to appeal life sentence

A trial previously heard it was most likely she was suffocated while sedated by drugs.

After this conviction, police investigated the 2010 death of Stewart’s first wife, Diane Stewart, 47, and later, he was found guilty of her murder.

The cause of her death was recorded at the time as sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.

Amjad Malik QC, for Stewart, previously of Royston, argued that the whole-life order he was given for the murder of his first wife was not justified in the circumstances of the case.

“When one looks at the whole set of aggravating features with regard to both of these killings, it does not fall in any way shape or form as an exceptionally high-seriousness case,” he said.

However, Mr Little, representing the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and Crown Prosecution Service, said: “It is difficult to say that this sentence was either manifestly excessive or wrong in principle.”

The hearing before the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and four other judges concluded on Wednesday, May 4 with a decision due at a later date.