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Colin Howell could face charge of sex attack on ex-lover Hazel Stewart


Hazel Stewart is serving a minimum of 18 years for the double murder

Hazel Stewart is serving a minimum of 18 years for the double murder

Hazel Stewart is serving a minimum of 18 years for the double murder

Lawyers acting for double murderer Hazel Stewart have confirmed they are awaiting a decision on whether killer dentist Colin Howell will face trial over allegations he sexually assaulted her.

Stewart is serving a minimum of 18 years for killing her husband, Constable Trevor Buchanan, and her lover's wife Lesley Howell.

The Irish News reported that Howell (61) was questioned about the alleged sexual assault in 2018.

He is serving a minimum sentence of 21 years for the murder of his former wife and Mr Buchanan.

The bodies of Mrs Howell (31) and Mr Buchanan (32) 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.

Nearly two decades passed before Howell suddenly confessed to both killings.

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He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010, implicated Stewart in the plot and later gave evidence against her at her trial.

Stewart's solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law, confirmed yesterday that his client is the complainant in a case in which "serious" allegations of a historic nature have been made in relation to sexual assault. Stewart has waived her automatic right to anonymity as a complainant in a sexual assault case.

"We hope to hear from the PPS on whether there is a direction to prosecute," said Mr Winters.

"If there is a direction, there will be a jury trial and the independence and integrity of any future trial needs to be protected," he said.

When asked whether a decision would be expected within weeks, Mr Winters said the process is "hard to predict".

"The case isn't without complexity," he said.

"There's an anxiety from our client that a decision is made sooner rather than later," he added.

Howell was questioned about an allegation of serious sexual assault in April 2018, when he was brought from Maghaberry Prison to be interviewed at Musgrave police station.

He was later returned to custody pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Stewart, a former Sunday school teacher, has previously failed in a series of attempts to have her murder convictions overturned.

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