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Howell 'murder trail' suggestion repellent

Editor's viewpoint

Published 09/06/2016

Colin Howell
Colin Howell

The former mayor of Coleraine Sam Cole will have surprised - and indeed shocked - many people by suggesting the council should help to fund a tourism "murder trail" on the north coast.

This would be based on the grisly story of Hazel Stewart and Colin Howell, which attracted a wide national audience during the recent ITV series, appropriately titled The Secret.

Clearly Mr Cole seems to see this as a tourism initiative and an opportunity to capitalise commercially on the TV drama in the hope that this would bring in hordes of visitors to the scenes of the crimes.

This may have seemed a good idea to Mr Cole, but the detailed implications of this misguided suggestion hardly bear thinking about, even in this age where sometimes it seems that "anything goes".

Of course, there will always be a dark side to human nature, where people might wish to see the places where such dastardly actions were carried out.

Dark deeds have their own kinds of fascination.

There is much in the Stewart-Howell story to impress those who want to be titillated by pure evil.

This particulsar story has violence and kinky sex, murder, lies, sick religion and cover-ups, with the dark secret being laid bare some two decades later.

No doubt many people have already come to stand and stare at the 12 Apostles Cottages in Castlerock, where the dreadful deeds took place.

They will also have gazed at the nearby beach and the route which Howell passed through on his nefarious mission at the dead of night.

People might say that it is natural, if unsavoury, to look at these things.

Equally, it can be argued that there are many cases where the details of notorious events have been deliberately erased out of respect for the relatives, who are still suffering.

This is particularly true in the Stewart-Howell story, where the families of the murdered spouses Lesley and Trevor still feel the rawness of their murders, and the pain has not gone away.

Given such a background, the idea of a council making money and attracting tourists from such tragedy and evil is distinctly unattractive and inappropriate.

In the light of the dreadful events which took place in Castlerock, there is every reason for ratepayers' money in Coleraine being used for more edifying purposes.

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