Hazel Stewart: I could have stopped the killings
Double murder accused Hazel Stewart admitted to detectives that she could have stopped the killing of her husband and ex-lover Colin Howell’s wife.
During police interviews Stewart said she knew about Howell’s plan to murder her husband Trevor Buchanan and his wife Lesley in May 1991.
She said that she was sorry and wanted to apologise to Mr Buchanan’s family, their two children Andrew and Lisa and to her second husband David Stewart.
Recordings of the interviews, which were carried out in January 2009 after Howell confessed to the murders, were played to the jury at Coleraine Crown Court yesterday.
The 47-year-old former Sunday School teacher’s husband and two children were in court supporting her. Members of Mr Buchanan’s family sat on the opposite side of the courtroom.
When asked during the interviews by Detective Sergeant Geoff Ferris if she accepted that on numerous opportunities before the murder she could have controlled the situation and stopped both murders, she replied: “Yes, I could have stopped it.”
She told police that she asked Howell not to go through with the murders.
“It was a horrible thing. I knew what he was coming to do. I didn’t want him to do it. We had a plan. I didn't want to do it. But it’s done, I let it happen,” she said.
Stewart added that Howell had pressured her into going along with the murder plot.
“He arranged it for that Saturday that he would come around, and he did. I looked at the back of the car. I didn't know it was Lesley. He told me it was Lesley. At that stage I felt like being sick, I had to run away. I didn’t want this to happen but he was there and he wanted to do this and I stood back,” she said,
Stewart told police that she had encouraged her husband to take a sleeping tablet on the night of the murders. She denied giving him the drug, but admitted that sedating him was also part of Howell's plan.
The court also heard Stewart admit that she got rid of evidence by destroying a hosepipe that was used to gas the victims while they slept.
Stewart denies murdering her husband, RUC Constable Trevor Buchanan, and Howell’s wife Lesley almost 20 years ago. Their bodies were discovered in a fume-filled car in a garage in Castlerock in an apparent suicide bid. Howell is serving a 21 year-jail term after admitting last year to the murders.
Detective Sergeant Ferris told her during interview: “We are in no doubt it was calculated. It was vicious in relation to what you did, both of you. You showed no regard for your partners, for their families, and no regard for your own children. You made that decision that you could live with your two children, aged only nine and 10 at the time, and you agreed to a plan that resulted in the father of your two children being murdered in the very house where they lay sleeping. It can’t get any colder than that Hazel.”