Belfast Telegraph

Prison Service tight-lipped on whether killer dentist Howell will attend father's funeral

By David Young

The funeral of the father of double killer Colin Howell is due to take place in Portadown today.

Samuel Howell senior died last Sunday in Craigavon Area Hospital.

A death notice described Mr Howell as "a much-loved grandfather and great-grandfather".

A service of thanksgiving will be held in Portadown Baptist Church today, followed by burial in Kernan Cemetery.

His son, Colin Howell, is currently serving a minimum of 21 years in Maghaberry Prison for the murders of his wife and the police officer husband of his former lover Hazel Stewart.

The bodies of Lesley Howell (31) and Constable Trevor Buchanan (32) were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in May 1991.

Police originally thought they had died in a suicide pact after discovering that their partners were having an affair.

But nearly two decades later dentist Howell suddenly confessed to both killings and admitted that he had made it look like they had taken their own lives.

He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010, and implicated Hazel Stewart in the plot and went on to give evidence against her at her trial.

In March 2011 Stewart was unanimously convicted of both murders and ordered to serve at least 18 years behind bars. Howell is also serving a five-and-a-half-year-sentence for sexually assaulting five female patients while they were under sedation at his dental surgery in Ballymoney in Co Antrim.

Mr Howell senior was a former manager at a Government Training Centre.

Last night the Northern Ireland Prison Service declined to comment on speculation that the double murderer was to be permitted to attend his father's funeral on compassionate grounds.

A spokesperson said: "We do not comment on individual cases.

"Established procedures are in place to manage all compassionate releases from NI prisons."

Belfast Telegraph

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