Sunday 22 October 2017

Lover trapped me in a spider's web, double killer tells trial

Hazel Stewart outside court in Coleraine, Co Derry yesterday with
her husband David, son and daughter
Hazel Stewart outside court in Coleraine, Co Derry yesterday with her husband David, son and daughter

David Young and Deric Henderson

Killer dentist Colin Howell was trapped in a spider's web woven by his lover Hazel Stewart which would eventually lead to them murdering his wife and her husband, he told his former mistress's trial yesterday.

The disgraced one-time Christian preacher denied he had controlled Ms Stewart, even though he drugged her prior to sex, and insisted she had seduced him at the outset of their torrid affair.

"Flies go into spiders' webs . . . I willingly went after the bait and we got caught together in the trap," he said during his second day in the witness box.

Assured and measured throughout, Howell delivered a series of elaborate and detailed answers under cross examination which held a packed Coleraine Crown Court captivated.

The 51-year-old father of 11 has already confessed to poisoning his wife Lesley and Ms Stewart's policeman husband Trevor Buchanan in May 1991 and staging it to look like a suicide pact.

Yesterday, his voice never wavered as he described, in often flamboyant terms, her role in the plot to kill their partners.

"Hazel and I were waltzing together, in time," he claimed.

"I was not dragging her around the floor. I may have been the lead partner in that dance, but she was doing it in perfect harmony and willingly."

Double murder accused Ms Stewart (47), from Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, denies she was part of a joint enterprise with Howell to kill their spouses.

She sat with her head down as her one-time lover, whose marriage proposal she turned down four years after the murders, delivered his testimony.

Members of the public arrived at the courthouse two hours ahead of proceedings hoping to see the cross examination -- but the gallery was filled to capacity with relatives.

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.

Poisoned

Howell, who is serving a 21-year sentence, had poisoned them, then set up a scene to look as though they had taken their own lives.

During the four hours on the stand yesterday, the dentist claimed:



  • Police may have caught him if certain forensic tests were carried out on the body of Mr Buchanan.
  • He was just hours from confessing in 1998 but kept it secret after claiming he underwent a religious experience.
  • Ms Stewart entered into a "blood pact" with him at the time she had a secret abortion in London.
  • He is not a psychopath -- the assessment of a prison psychiatrist -- and claimed anyone could potentially have done what he did.
  • The same psychiatrist said Howell told her he drugged Hazel Stewart before they had sex as an experiment to see if he could do the same with his patients. Howell admitted to sedating Ms Stewart prior to intercourse and indecently assaulting three patients, but he denied those were linked and he had been using his mistress as a guinea pig.
  • That he embarked on a nine-month relationship with a member of staff at his dental practice behind the back of his second wife Kyle in 2005.


Ms Stewart's defence lawyer Paul Ramsey declared Howell to be "a sexual predator".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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