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Officer who helped bring killer Hazel Stewart to justice set to take case against PSNI

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 18/10/2016

Geoff Ferris
Geoff Ferris
Geoff Ferris in action for Glenavon

The detective who broke double killer Hazel Stewart in interview is taking a case against the PSNI, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

DS Geoff Ferris is one of two claimants named in an industrial tribunal lodged against the Chief Constable.

He was the officer who famously got Stewart to confess to the murders of her husband Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, the wife of her ex-lover Colin Howell.

Mr Ferris declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper yesterday.

The PSNI also did not wish to comment.

A spokesman said: "It would be inappropriate to comment at this stage."

Mr Ferris is a former Irish League footballer who enjoyed spells with Glenavon, Carrick Rangers and Coleraine but, more recently, he is remembered for his central role in bringing Stewart to justice.

The 53-year-old is serving a minimum 18-year jail sentence for murdering Constable Buchanan (32) and Mrs Howell, who was 31.

The victims were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in May 1991.

Police originally believed they had died in a suicide pact after discovering their partners were having an affair.

But they had been murdered before their bodies were arranged to make it look like they had taken their own lives.

Nearly two decades passed before dentist Howell (57) suddenly confessed to both killings.

He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010 and was ordered to serve at least 21 years behind bars.

Howell also implicated his former lover in the plot and gave evidence against her at her trial.

In March 2011 Stewart was unanimously convicted of both killings by a jury at Coleraine Crown Court.

During the three-week trial the jury was played taped extracts from the interview conducted by DS Ferris, in which Stewart finally confessed.

The dramatic scene was later portrayed in The Secret, the ITV drama which told the story of the murders.

During the original interview at Coleraine RUC Station, heard at the trial, DS Ferris described the crimes as "nearly the perfect murder".

He put it to Stewart: "Colin Howell could not have done this on his own and you could not have done it on your own Hazel.

"This had to be a joint enterprise between the two of you.

"The two of you had to work together to make this plan come to fruition, do you accept that?"

She replied: "Yes."

DS Ferris added: "Sorry, just for the benefit of the tape."

Stewart repeated her answer again, twice: "Yes, yes."

Stewart has consistently refused to accept her guilt.

In October last year she lost her appeal against being convicted of murdering Mr Buchanan.

She has also failed in attempts to overturn the verdict that she killed Mrs Howell.

Belfast Telegraph

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