Wednesday 26 June 2019

Double killer and former dentist Colin Howell taken from prison for hour to visit father's grave

Colin Howell
Colin Howell

Adrian Rutherford

Double murderer Colin Howell has been discreetly let out of prison to visit his father's grave.

The former dentist, serving a minimum of 21 years for killing his wife and his ex-lover's policeman husband, was temporarily released yesterday morning.

Accompanied by prison officers, he paid his respects at Kernan Cemetery in Portadown, Co Armagh where his father Samuel is buried.

Samuel Howell passed away on July 21.

His son did not attend the funeral service, which was held at Portadown Baptist Church on July 28.

However, he was granted temporary release yesterday to visit his grave.

A source said: "It was a brief visit to allow him to pay his respects to his father.

"He was handcuffed the whole time, accompanied by prison officers, and the whole thing lasted little more than an hour or so. He was returned to prison later in the day without incident."

The Prison Service declined to comment.

Howell is serving a 21-year jail term for the double murder of his wife Lesley (31) and Trevor Buchanan (32), the RUC officer husband of his then lover Hazel Stewart.

Their bodies were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock in 1991. Police originally thought the pair had died in a suicide pact after discovering their partners were having an affair.

But nearly two decades later Howell suddenly confessed to both killings and admitted he had made it look like the pair had taken their own lives.

He later said he came forward as he thought God was punishing him.

He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010 and implicated Stewart in the plot, giving evidence against her at a trial that gripped Northern Ireland.

In March 2011 Stewart was unanimously convicted of both murders and ordered to serve at least 18 years behind bars.

The extraordinary case was later turned into a controversial ITV drama, The Secret.

Howell is also serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence for sexually assaulting five female patients while they were under sedation at his dental surgery in Ballymoney.

Samuel Howell died suddenly at Craigavon Area Hospital.

At the time, prison sources indicated that there was a reluctance for the funeral to be seen to descend into a media circus due to Colin Howell's attendance.

They had indicated that arrangements would be made for a more discreet visit.

In his book about the murders, Let This Be Our Secret, journalist Deric Henderson said Howell was always close to his father, a former manager at a Government Training Centre.

He wrote that Howell later said of his relationship with his father: "I was dad's little buddy."

Belfast Telegraph

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