Sunday 18 March 2018

Killer dentist Howell admits sex attacks on nine patients

Killer dentist Colin Howell has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting nine women patients at his surgery just moments before he was due to stand trial on the charges.

In a dramatic development at Antrim Crown Court, Howell, 52, changed his plea on nine of 14 counts facing him. Five outstanding charges will remain on the books.

Last year the dentist was sentenced to life in prison after admitting murdering his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, the policeman husband of his then lover Hazel Stewart, in Coleraine in May 1991.

Stewart was also convicted of the double murder, which police believed was suicide for 19 years, after standing trial earlier this year.

Last year Howell plead guilty to assaulting three of his patients on three separate occasions in his Ballymoney practice.

Two of those three victims alleged he attacked them more than once and those charges, along with claims filed by three other women, were due to be contested in the trial in Antrim.

All the alleged crimes took place over a 10-year period spanning March 1998 to December 2008.

Ahead of the trial, Howell's lawyer Richard Weir told the court his client wanted to be re-arraigned on nine of the 14 charges.

Judge Corine Philpott told the dentist, who was wearing a grey suit and navy striped tie, to stand as the counts were read to him.

In response to the first charge, Howell said: "Guilty and I'm sorry."

He again apologised as the charges relating to three of his other victims were read out.

An alleged assault against one of the six patients will remain on the books, as will four other charges related to the other women.

Judge Philpott dismissed the jury and set a hearing for next Wednesday for pre-sentencing legal applications to be made.

Victims and relatives wept and embraced inside the court after Howell was led back to the cells from the dock.

Press Association

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