Belfast Telegraph

RUC’s Colin Howell investigation probed

By Deborah McAleese

The original RUC investigation into the deaths of dentist Colin Howell’s victims is being probed by the Police Ombudsman.

An inquiry was launched following a complaint to the police watchdog about the 1991 investigation that failed to detect that Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan had been murdered, wrongly concluding that they had committed suicide.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman has confirmed that an investigation into the original police inquiry is currently under way after a complaint was lodged.

The Ombudsman’s findings are unlikely to be published before the conclusion of the trial of Howell’s co-accused, his former lover Hazel Stewart. The mother-of-two has consistently denied murdering her first husband and Mrs Howell. Her trial is expected to begin in February and Howell is due to take the stand against her.

It is understood that Mr Buchanan’s family are furious that officers in the original investigation failed to spot that he and Mrs Howell had been murdered.

The truth was only discovered two decades later when Howell handed himself into police because of an “emotional longing” to be with his mistress Hazel Buchanan, now Stewart, who he had a relationship with for five years after the murders.

In a shocking confession to police, Howell admitted that he had gassed his 31-year-old wife as she lay sleeping on the sofa in their Coleraine home, before going to Mr Buchanan’s house nearby and gassing him as he lay asleep.

Earlier this week Howell’s confessions to police were made public during a pre-sentence hearing at Belfast Crown Court.

He told police he had decided to confess because he believed his “sins had caught up with him”.

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