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Killer dentist jailed for sex acts

Killer dentist Colin Howell has been given a five-and-a-half-year jail term for indecently assaulting five of his female patients.

The former lay preacher, who is already serving 21 years for murdering his wife and his ex-lover's husband, plead guilty to 12 charges of taking advantage of the sedated women over a period of four years in his Co Antrim practice.

Sentencing at Antrim Crown Court, Judge Corine Philpott said he abused his position of trust.

"You are an intelligent man and you had the means to stop yourself from doing this," she told the 52-year-old as he stood before her in the dock.

Howell, whose dental practice was in Ballymoney, pleaded guilty to three of the counts last October and admitted a further nine earlier this month just moments before his trial was due to start.

Five other charges facing him were not pursued and will remain on the books.

Before sentencing, the Crown insisted Howell had breached the trust of his patients while his defense lawyer argued that the crimes would not have come to light if he had not admitted them to police while being questioned about the double murder.

Last year the dentist was sentenced to life in prison, with a 21-year minimum term, after confessing to murdering his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, the policeman husband of his then lover Hazel Stewart, in Coleraine in May 1991.

Stewart, 48, was also convicted of the double murder, which police believed for 19 years was suicide, after standing trial earlier this year. She is serving an 18-year minimum life term.

The bodies of Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan were found in a car in a fume-filled garage in the seaside town of Castlerock. The dentist had staged the scene after poisoning the pair with gas piped from his car exhaust as they slept in their own homes in nearby Coleraine.

Howell, dressed in a grey suit and navy striped tie, said nothing as his sentence was handed down.

But last week he apologised to the patients he attacked as he changed his plea to guilty on the nine counts.

As the first charge was read to him, with a number of his victims sitting yards away in the public gallery, he spoke from the dock in a low and cracked voice.

"Guilty and I am sorry," he said.