Killer wife 'showed little remorse'
A former Sunday school teacher jailed for 18 years for murdering her policeman husband and her ex-lover's wife has shown little remorse for her dreadful crimes, a judge told her.
Setting the minimum term Hazel Stewart must spend behind bars for killing Pc Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell almost 20 years ago, Mr Justice Anthony Hart said she was more concerned about her own future than the victims.
The 48-year-old mother of two had already been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of plotting with dentist Colin Howell to poison his wife and her husband on Northern Ireland's north coast in May, 1991.
With 52-year-old Howell already serving 21 years after pleading guilty to the crimes last year, Mr Hart told Belfast Crown Court how long his accomplice and former mistress and must spend behind bars before being considered for release.
As Stewart sat in the dock of a packed courtroom, her head bowed, the judge claimed her tearful expressions of regret to police after her arrest in January 2009 - interviews that were played during her trial - were more about the situation she faced than sorrow for what she did.
"It is noteworthy that throughout her police interviews she said far more about the effect of these events on herself, her children and her present husband than she did about the effects of the murders on all the others whose lives have been ended and blighted by these events," he said.
"I consider that she has expressed little real remorse for what she did, rather the sorrow and regret which she expressed to the police was largely because of the situation in which she found herself, and not for the events in which she played her part."
Dressed in the same plum coat she wore throughout her trial, the murderess, from Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, showed little reaction as the judge announced the term. Her children Andrew and Lisa and second husband David Stewart, a retired police superintendent, watched from the public gallery.
Her daughter pressed a hand against the gallery's glass partition as Stewart was led from the dock down to the cells and on to Hydebank women's prison in south Belfast.
The 32-year-old policeman and Mrs Howell, 31, were found in a fume-filled garage in the seaside town of Castlerock, Co Derry. Police thought they had died in a bizarre suicide pact - triggered by their spouses' infidelity.