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Killer dentist will not testify against his ex for withholding information

DENTIST Colin Howell will not testify against his ex-wife who is under investigation for withholding information about his double murder, it was revealed today.

Kyle Jorgensen, the mother of their five children, dumped Howell after he was charged with gassing his first wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, the husband of his then lover Hazel Stewart.

Howell, 52, persuaded Jorgensen to stay quiet when he confessed to the killings 10 years before he owned up to his church elders and police.

Detectives twice questioned her before she returned to the United States to begin divorce proceedings, and even though the Public Prosecution Service has yet to decide if she should face criminal charges, Howell revealed to investigating officers he is not prepared to give evidence against her.

He told friends who visited him at Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn: "I have nothing further to say and no wish to see the mother of my children go to jail. If it wasn't for her I might not have had the courage to go through with all of this.

"Rather than blame her, the police should be grateful for her intervention."

It was Jorgensen, 45, a divorcee from New York, who forced Howell to hand himself over after he admitted being swindled out of their life savings and indecently assaulting sedated women patients at his dental practice in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

He told her about the murders in August 1998, a year after they married when she arrived in Northern Ireland to study Irish history at the University of Ulster.

Howell convinced her to keep his secret, but when their relationship collapsed after he also confessed to cheating on her again with another woman, she forced him to tell all. Hours before handing himself over to police in January 2009 she screamed at him in the kitchen of their home: "You've got to do it. You've got to do it, Colin. The truth will set you free."

The couple belonged to the Barn Christian Fellowship, a small evangelical church group on the north coast some of whose members are still loyal to the dentist from Castlerock, Co Derry.

Howell spent three days at Coleraine Crown Court giving evidence against Stewart before she was unanimously convicted by a jury last March of the two murders, but he has told police he will not return to the witness box.

According to authoritative sources inside the jail, he said to one of his visitors: "The only people responsible for hiding the truth are the two who have been quite rightly sentenced for the crime."

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Stewart, 48, was convicted of murdering Ms Howell, 31 and her first husband Mr Buchanan, 32, in May 1991. The dentist poisoned his wife with carbon monoxide fumes, then killed his lover's husband in the same way before leaving the bodies in a garage in Castlerock where he stage managed the deaths to look like a suicide pact.

Howell is serving 21 years while his ex-lover has just spent her first Christmas behind bars after being jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

She has her own cell at Hydebank women's prison, south Belfast, where she was visited over the holiday by her husband David Stewart, a retired police chief superintendent, and her two children, Andrew and Lisa - the three of them still convinced of her innocence.

It is understood Howell has had talks with one of the Maghaberry chaplains as part of plans to be baptised again.

He has been declared bankrupt owing more than €400,000 to the taxman and dozens of patients who paid for treatment in advance. His assets, which include his seven-bedroom room at Glebe Road in the hills above Castlerock, remain frozen.

His daughter Lauren Bradford is the only one of his children from his two marriages who visits him at Maghaberry.

Howell's eldest son Matthew, 22, was killed after falling down a stairwell at an apartment block in St Petersburg, Russia, in April 2007 when he was a student at St Andrews University.

Mr Buchanan's father Jim died in July that year, still grieving over his son's death.

Howell told one of his prison visitors: "Matt and Mr Buchanan both died believing a lie and it must have been distressing. But they know, in an enlightened way, that justice has been done on earth. They can now rest in peace."

Stewart is challenging her conviction. The High Court in Belfast refused to grant her leave to appeal, but that decision is expected to be contested in the Court of Appeal next year.

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