Dentist faces sex assault trial
A jury has been sworn in ahead of the trial of a convicted double murderer accused of indecently assaulting female patients at his dentist's surgery.
Colin Howell, 52, who is serving a life term in prison for killing his wife and ex-lover's husband 20 years ago, is alleged to have attacked six patients in his practice in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, over a 10-year period.
He originally faced 17 separate charges of indecently assaulting the six women in a period spanning March 1998 to December 2008. He has pleaded guilty to attacking three of the women on one occasion. However two of those three victims claim he assaulted them more than once.
The dentist will face 14 counts when the trial starts at Antrim Crown Court on Tuesday.
A jury of six men and six women were sworn in in front of judge Corine Philpott. She told them the trial should last two weeks. The judge also told the jury that they would be aware of the high-profile case that the dentist had been involved in, and urged them to concentrate on the facts alone.
Howell, dressed in a grey suit and navy stripped tie, sat impassively in the dock as the jury members were sworn in.
He spoke on only a few occasions, confirming his name and that he was ready to stand trial.
Howell was handed a minimum jail term of 21 years last year after pleading guilty to murdering his wife Lesley, 31, and Trevor Buchanan, 32, the policeman husband of his then mistress Hazel Stewart in Coleraine in May 1991.
Their bodies were found in a car in a gas-filled garage in the nearby seaside town of Castlerock and for 18 years police thought they had killed themselves until Howell confessed in 2009.
Stewart was found guilty of the double murder and handed an 18-year minimum term after standing trial in March this year.