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Hazel Stewart let lover enter her home to kill her husband, court told

By Deborah McAleese

Murder accused Hazel Stewart admitted to police that she allowed her lover into her house to kill her husband after he had already murdered his wife, a court has heard.

Mother-of-two Stewart (47) also allegedly admitted cutting up and burning the hose pipe that was used to poison her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley with carbon monoxide from a car exhaust in May 1991.

Stewart denies murdering Mr Buchanan (32) and Lesley Howell (31). Their bodies were found |in a fume-filled car in Castlerock in May 1991.

Her former lover, dentist Colin Howell, has already pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed |for 21 years.

The prosecution told the jury during the first day of evidence at Coleraine Crown Court about interviews given by Stewart when she was arrested in January 2009.

At first she told police that she did not know what Howell was planning to do.

“It was his plan,” she told detectives. “I didn't want to know.”

But the court heard that in |later interviews Stewart told police she had encouraged her husband to take a temazepam tablet before Howell arrived to kill him.

“Colin gave me the tablets to give to him,” Stewart said.

“If he hadn’t taken it I would have had to give him something ... he had to have something in him to relax a bit. If Trevor hadn’t taken it he (Howell) couldn’t have gone on with it.”

She also acknowledged in police interviews that she opened the garage door of her house to let Howell drive in with his dead wife in his the back of his car.

She said she did this because Howell asked her to, adding that he was very controlling and had her in his “psychological” grip.

She said she heard a struggle in her husband’s bedroom after Howell had gone in with the hose pipe and that when she looked out of the spare room she saw her husband lying in his boxer shorts in the corridor.

She said: “I didn't want to hear it, I put my hands over my ears, I didn't want to hear it, I was |so scared.”

The court heard that Stewart told detectives that she was |“weak and vulnerable” and was scared for her life, as Howell was so controlling.

Prosecuting barrister Ciaran Murphy QC told the court that there was no doubt Stewart had engaged in a joint enterprise to kill Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan.

“The purpose was to rid them of their partners so they could be together,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “She stood feet away knowing her husband was struggling for his last breaths. She showed total and utter callous disregard for her husband and endorsed and encouraged exactly what Colin Howell was doing.”

The trial is expected to last for four weeks.

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