Colin Howell’s lawyers dithering, says judge
The trial of a dentist and his ex-lover accused of murdering their partners in Northern Ireland nearly 20 years ago has had to be delayed because of a hold-up in obtaining psychiatric reports.
Mr Justice Hart at Belfast Crown Court yesterday set November 22 as the new date after accusing defence lawyers of “dithering”.
The trial of Colin Howell (51) and Hazel Stewart (47) had been scheduled to start on November 1, but the court heard new psychiatric tests had yet to take place.
Howell is to be examined by Professor Nigel Eastman. Stewart, a mother-of-two, will be seen by Dr Gill Mezey, another London-based forensic psychiatrist.
Howell has already been examined by two psychiatrists but his lawyer Francis Rafferty told yesterday's hearing that Dr Eastman could not proceed with his report until after the dentist was examined again by a prison psychiatrist, Dr Ian Bownes, on October 15.
Neither of the accused appeared for yesterday's review hearing. Howell of Glebe Road, Castlerock, Co Londonderry, has been in custody since his arrest in January last year. Stewart, of Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, has been out on bail.
They are charged with the murders of Howell's wife Lesley (31) and Stewart's first husband, police officer Trevor Buchanan (32), whose bodies were found in a car filled with exhaust fumes in Castlerock in May 1991.