Belfast Telegraph

Killer dentist Howell's luxury home on Airbnb for £200-a-night

 

By Ivan Little

The former home of Colin Howell has been turned into a guesthouse, giving holidaymakers the chance to stay in the house where the killer dentist confessed to the gruesome murders of his wife and his lover's husband.

Academic Dr Andy Biggart, who bought the luxury property in Castlerock last year, is now promoting the six-bedroom house as an upmarket Airbnb rental, catering for up to 15 guests.

Dr Biggart originally called the Glebe Road house Dunkillyn Farm but he has now renamed it Eala Lodge, with the title coming from the Irish for swan.

Howell didn't move into the house until long after the killings but he was arrested by police there in January 2009.

It came after he had admitted to church elders in the sprawling kitchen that he murdered his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, the RUC husband of his lover Hazel Stewart, at their homes in Coleraine 18 years earlier.

He later gave evidence in court against Stewart and she, like him, was jailed for life.

The Castlerock house, which sits in seven acres of land, isn't far from where Howell dumped his tragic victims' bodies and disguised the deaths as suicides.

Howell built the house on Glebe Road for his second wife, American Kyle Jorgensen, and their expanding family and he hosted gatherings of his Barn Christian Fellowship, a North Antrim evangelical church group, there.

It is understood that after his son Matthew - from his marriage to Lesley - died in an accident in Russia, his father scattered his ashes on an island on the lake.

The Airbnb website says the lodge costs £200 a night to rent for up to eight people with extra guests charged £40.

It says that a security deposit of £500 is required along with a cleaning fee of £50.

The website says the lodge is nestled among maturing native oak and willow trees with its own trout lake in the hills above Castlerock and is "perfect for a rural and seaside luxurious getaway".

It says the lodge is particularly suited to large families, golfing parties and other groups including motorcyclists.

The property is advertised as having two sitting rooms with views of the lake, coastline and the sea and "a well-equipped large luxury kitchen", as well as luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms.

The blurb adds: "The house is a good base for exploring all the north coast has to offer and Castlerock was where CS Lewis spent time as a child during the summer months.

"There are a number of Game of Thrones locations nearby and some of the top links golf courses Ireland has to offer, including Royal Portrush."

It goes on to say that Dr Biggart lives in a separate annex to the house and is available to provide guests with local knowledge of the attractions across the north coast.

It adds: "He is very friendly and happy to advise guests and make the most out of what the property has to offer, but will give guests space to have their own privacy if desired."

It says that Dr Biggart regularly commutes 120 miles on his motorbike to and from work at Queen's University, Belfast, where he is a lecturer. There is no suggestion of any impropriety on the part of Dr Biggart.

So far, only one guest review has appeared on the Eala Lodge page on the Airbnb website.

A visitor called Martin says: "Great place to relax and rest. Andy is a great host, always prepared to help you in anything you need."

On the Eala Lodge Facebook page, a 55-second video includes aerial shots of the property and interior shots of the house.

There is also a photograph of the lodge's first guests, a golfing party from Barcelona.

Last year, the house was at the centre of controversy after a former DUP Mayor of Coleraine, Sam Cole, suggested it could be a focal point for tourism.

He said the television drama about the murders, The Secret, which starred Jimmy Nesbitt as Howell and Genevieve O'Reilly as Hazel Stewart, had sparked major interest in the case and had the potential to attract visitors to the area keen to visit the scenes depicted in the series.

Other politicians slammed the idea, saying the prospect of the Glebe Road house becoming a tourist attraction would be nauseating for the victims' families.

Mr Cole denied he was promoting murder tourism. The Airbnb website makes no reference to the house's former owner.

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