30/11/2010

Killer Dentist's Double Murders Outlined

The shocking details of a cold, calculating double murderer's tactics have emerged in a fresh hearing to decide a minimum jail term.

Belfast Crown Court has heard how Castlerock dentist, Colin Howell confessed his crimes to the police - despite apparently getting clean away with his horrific crimes - with the two deaths blamed on a bizarre suicide pact.

Howell first killed his wife Lesley, who called out their son's name "Matthew" as he held a homemade gas pipe and makeshift mask to her face as she slept in the family home.

Howell then dressed her body, put it into the boot of his car and drove to the home of his former lover Hazel Stewart where he then also gassed her police constable husband Trevor Buchannan in May 1991 as he was sleeping.

Howell continued his deadly plan even when Mr Buchannan woke and struggled before Howell pulled a quilt over his victim's head and fully gassed him, just as he had done with his wife.
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Howell told police he also dressed Mr Buchannan and put him into the boot of his car along with his murdered wife and drove them to a house on Cliff Terrace in Castlerock, known as the 12 Apostles.

There he put the dead police officer into the driver's seat and his wife lying outside the boot.

Howell admitted to placing family photographs around his dead wife's body and placing a "reflective" letter his wife had written on the kitchen floor of their home to make it look more like a suicide pact by the wronged spouses.

As a result, an inquest held in 1992 found that the pair had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning in what appeared to everyone to be a tragic double suicide.

Mr Murphy said it was not until last year when Howell, from the Glebe Road in Castlerock, confessed to his callous crimes to his second wife Kyle and the police were called.

Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to the murders and has already been jailed for life for both.

This Friday, Mr Justice Hart will decide what minimum term he will have to serve before even being considered for release.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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