Sunday 21 January 2018

Killer dentist drugged lover before they had sex, court told

Hazel Stewart at Coleraine Crown Court yesterday
Hazel Stewart at Coleraine Crown Court yesterday
Trevor McAuley: a trial witness who gave evidence yesterday

David Young

Killer dentist Colin Howell injected his lover with drugs to knock her out while they had sex and once feared he had overdosed her, a court heard yesterday.

Hazel Stewart wanted to be unconscious during intercourse so she would not experience any Christian guilt, another former boyfriend of the mother-of-two told her double-murder trial.

Trevor McAuley said Ms Stewart had also warned him to steer clear of Howell, then her ex, because he had no idea "what he is capable of".

Ms Stewart denies murdering husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell's wife Lesley in May 1991 and making police believe it was a suicide pact.

Howell has already admitted to poisoning their spouses and leaving their bodies in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, Co Derry, to make it appear they had taken their own lives.

The third day of the trial in Coleraine Crown Court also heard that in the period before the murders, Howell gave his wife sleeping tablets to knock her out so he could meet Ms Stewart to carry on their affair.

Mr McAuley, who started seeing Ms Stewart five years after the deaths and as her relationship with Howell was ending, told the jury she had told him that when she was involved with Howell he would come round to her house with drugs in a "floppy needle".

"He would administer this drug to her and she would pass out and she would really know nothing about it until the morning when she woke," he said.

"On one occasion he almost overdid it and gave her too much and he was actually concerned if he was going to get her to come round."


Asked by Neil Connor, prosecuting, why Howell gave her the sedatives, Mr McAuley replied: "So he could enjoy sexual gratification with her without her feeling guilt of it while he was able to have pleasure."

Under cross examination, Mr McAuley indicated the guilt Ms Stewart claimed to have experienced was in relation to her Christianity. Ms Stewart sat impassively in the dock as Mr McAuley told the jury she had once asked if he thought her late husband Trevor was in Heaven, even though he had committed suicide.

"On one occasion when we had gone for a walk and on the way back Hazel asked what my views were, because Trevor had taken his own life, did I think he was going to be in Heaven or did I not?" he recounted.

"I answered her that I wasn't a judge to decide that someone went to Heaven or not. All I knew was that the Bible said no one had the right to take a life other than God. Hazel's answer to that was she believed Trevor was in Heaven."

Mr McAuley, who said Ms Stewart had "expensive tastes" and was "difficult to keep", also claimed that Howell stalked them in the early part of their relationship.

He said Howell would be often sitting in a car outside Ms Stewart's home and would speed off, sometimes in reverse gear, when he saw them arriving home together.

On one occasion he said Ms Stewart had gone to the back of the house to find Howell "standing like a statue" at the end of the garden at around midnight.

"I was quite angry about it,"said Mr McAuley. "I wanted to go out and see him but Hazel didn't want me to go out."

"Hazel told me at the time not to approach him because I didn't know what he was capable of."

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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