Belfast Telegraph

Fresh inquest into dentist murders

Northern Ireland's Attorney General has ordered a fresh inquest into the deaths of two people murdered by dentist Colin Howell and his lover.

John Larkin QC wants a review of the case of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell. The original inquest ruled they died from suicide in May 1991 on Northern Ireland's North Coast. However it later emerged Howell, 52, and Hazel Stewart, 48, gassed their partners and concocted an elaborate story to escape detection.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled in Belfast for May 4 when arrangements will be made for a full inquest by senior coroner John Leckey.

The bodies of Lesley Howell, 31, and Trevor Buchanan, 32, were found in a car in a garage at the back of a terrace of cottages in Castlerock, Co Londonderry.

The subsequent inquest found according to medical evidence both died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The coroner said Lesley was depressed on discovering her husband was having an affair and the depression worsened after the death of her father on May 7 - 12 days before she died.

Following Howell's confession to police in January 2009 it is now known that what looked like a tragic double suicide was in fact murder.

Howell gassed his wife as she slept on the sofa at their home in Knocklayde Park. He put her body in their car and drove to his lover Hazel Stewart's home. She opened the garage door and made sure her husband was sleeping in the bedroom. Howell then gassed Trevor Buchanan.

Howell pleaded guilty to murder last November and Stewart was convicted last month.

During the trial the court heard that Stewart played a part in the planning of the killings, even though Howell said he was the "mastermind" of the plan. She also disposed of evidence, including the hosepipe used to poison their spouses.

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