Former lover of killer dentist set to go on trial accused of double murder

The trial of a woman accused of murdering her policeman husband and her lover’s wife will begin today.

Hazel Stewart, 47, from Coleraine, Co Londonderry, denies killing Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell in nearby Castlerock in May 1991. Her former lover, dentist Colin Howell, 51, is currently serving a 21-year sentence after pleading guilty to the double murder last year.

The two deaths were originally treated by police as a suicide pact until Howell admitted his crimes to elders in his church 18 years later.

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The bodies of mother-of-four Lesley Howell, 31, and Pc Trevor Buchanan, 32, were discovered in a fume-filled car in the seaside town on Northern Ireland’s north coast.

Howell confessed to gassing them while they slept in their own homes before driving the bodies to the house of his wife’s late father and staging an elaborate scene to make it look as if they had taken their own lives.

Mrs Stewart, who has since remarried, has denied any part in the murder plot.

She will stand trial before Judge Anthony Hart at Coleraine Courthouse.

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The first day is expected to be taken up swearing in a jury.

Howell will also face a series of sexual offence charges against former patients at a trial to be heard later this year.

He has already admitted indecent assault charges against three women in April and July 2008 at his clinic in Ballymoney.