Belfast Telegraph

Life term for double murder dentist

A dentist has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of his wife and his ex-lover's husband who were poisoned by carbon monoxide fumes almost 20 years ago.

Dr Colin Howell, 51, changed his plea at Belfast Crown Court and admitted the 1991 killings which police first thought was a suicide pact.

He pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and mother-of-four Lesley, 31, and Pc Trevor Buchanan, 32, whose bodies were discovered in a fume-filled car in the seaside town of Castlerock, Co Londonderry.

Howell, also from Castlerock, had denied the two charges since his arrest last year, but owned up to the double murder when he stood in the dock as relatives of his victims looked on.

His former lover, Hazel Stewart, who was married to Pc Buchanan at the time, is due to stand trial for the two murders in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, next week.

Mother-of-two Mrs Stewart, 47, from Ballystrone Road, Coleraine - she later remarried - was in the Laganside court building today but was not in Court 12 as her co-accused changed his plea.

Howell, dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and tie, spoke only three times during the 10-minute hearing - once to confirm his name and to answer guilty to each charge in turn.

Judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart told him that he would be jailed for life with his minimum term to be determined at a later hearing.

At the time, it was believed the two victims had taken their own lives because of depression over an affair between Howell and Stewart. But detectives reopened the investigation in January last year when they interviewed Howell.

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