Impulse drove dentist to kill wife for money, murder trial told
Published 18/02/2011 | 05:00
Colin Howell is a monster who killed his wife for her money and only murdered his lover's husband to help build his alibi, his ex-mistress's trial heard.
The disgraced dentist did not plot the deaths of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan with Hazel Stewart, but acted on impulse and has since peddled the lie it was a bloody pact struck so they could be together, her defence lawyer told Coleraine Crown Court.
On Howell's last day of testifying against the mother of two in her double murder trial, Paul Ramsey challenged the one-time lay preacher, who he claimed was motivated to give evidence to feed his own ego and in the hope the courts would look favourably on him.
"You have lied about what the accused did and you have elevated what she did to one of joint enterprise," he said.
In the last line of this marathon 12-hour cross-examination, the lawyer declared: "I put it to you that you are a monster Mr Howell."
The father of 11, who two years ago admitted to the May 1991 murders, which were at the time believed to be suicides, ended his time in the witness box as he began it, with a profession of repentance.
"I was a monster and I was a killer but I'm not any longer and that's part of my confession," he said calmly.
Howell has claimed that Ms Stewart (47), from Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, was a willing participant in a murderous plot to rid them of their spouses -- charges she denies.
During his last day on the stand he insisted he only told detectives he killed on impulse in an effort to trick psychiatrists so he could get off on lesser manslaughter charges.
But Mr Ramsey rejected the dentist's assertion that Ms Stewart was a willing accomplice and alleged he killed his wife spontaneously for her inheritance, a sum he claims amounted to more than £400,000.
Howell, who said he only made £212,000 out of Lesley's death, insisted love was his and Ms Stewart's motive.
The dentist has said he feared his plan was "blown" hours before the murders when he thought his wife had run away or had been in a car crash.
Mr Ramsey asked why her running away or crashing the car would be a problem if all he wanted was her gone.
Howell replied in jarring terms: "If she got in a car accident and perhaps became quadriplegic and it didn't kill her, I didn't have the love to care for her at that time."
The lawyer suggested that she had to die -- not simply go away -- as that was the only way Howell would get the money.
The bodies of Mrs Howell (31), and Mr Buchanan (32), were found in a fume-filled garage in the seaside town of Castlerock, near Coleraine.
Ms Stewart has claimed to police that she feared for her life and her children's lives if she did not co-operate with Howell.
The case continues.