Belfast Telegraph

Killer wife must wait for sentence

A former Sunday school teacher convicted of murdering her husband and her ex-lover's wife will be sentenced on March 16.

It had been expected that Hazel Stewart, 48, would hear on Friday the minimum number of years she must spend in prison before being considered for release.

She was jailed for life at Coleraine Crown Court last week after a jury convicted her of murdering her policeman husband Trevor, 32, and Lesley Howell, 31, whose bodies were found in a car filled with carbon monoxide fumes at Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in May 1991.

The Northern Ireland Court Service said trial judge Mr Justice Hart will now hear final submissions at a hearing at Belfast Crown Court this Friday before passing sentence the following Wednesday.

Stewart's former lover Colin Howell, 52, is serving a 21-year-sentence at Maghaberry Prison after he admitted murdering his wife, the mother of their four children, and Pc Trevor Buchanan.

He has been in custody since January 2009 when he confessed his guilt, first to his elders at the Barn Fellowship, a small church group on Northern Ireland's north coast, and later to investigating police officers.

Howell, of Glebe Road, Castlerock, Co Londonderry, gassed both his victims as they slept at their homes in Coleraine and then stage-managed the deaths to make them look as if it was suicide.

Stewart, a mother of two from Ballystrone Road, Macosquin, Coleraine, Co Londonderry, who later re-married former police chief superintendent David Stewart, had been out on bail until she was found guilty last Wednesday.

During her 15-day trial, it emerged she knew in advance of the plan to carry out the double murder before cutting up and burning the garden hose Howell used to poison his victims with car exhaust fumes.

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