Hazel Stewart, Colin Howell, Murder And Sex On Laughing Gas
HAZEL Stewart, 48, is starting a life sentence for murdering her husband and the wife of dentist and lay preacher Colin Howell, her lover. At Coleraine Crown Court in Co Derry, she was found guilty of two murders.
In 1991, PC Trevor Buchanan, and Howell’s wife Lesley were killed. Twelve days earlier, Lesley Howell’s father died. Henry Clarke was the victim of a heart-attack. But the dead man’s relatives alleged that Colin Howell played a part in the death. The two deaths put Mr Howell in line for a £414,000 pay day.
Mr Clarke’s body was cremated. The Daily Telegraph reported that Howell pushed for it.
Says Lesley Howell’s brother, Dr Christopher Clarke:
“I don’t think my sister’s murder was a crime of passion. I think [Howell] may well have wanted to be with his new lover but I think this was logistically and financially motivated. My dad died very quickly while superficially healthy. I do wonder did Colin kill him – I will never actually know, I’m suspicious.”
As for the affair, well, one juicy bit from the trial is that dentist used laughing gas to knock out Stewart during sex. This would alleviate the Baptist former Sunday school teacher’s guilt.
Trevor McAuley, who dated Stewart five years after the deaths, told the court:
“He [Howell] would administer this drug to her and she would pass out and she would really know nothing about it until the morning when she woke.”
Lesley Howell discovered the affair, in which Stewart had had an abortion. Howell tried to kill herself. This, apparently, gave her husband an idea.
The plan was to make their death look like suicide.
So. On May 18, 1991 attached a hose to the car’s exhaust and gassed his wife as she slept on the sofa. When she screamed out, he pushed a duvet over her head.
Howell then dressed his dead wife’s body and drove over to Stewart’s home. Stewart had fed her husband a sleeping tablet.
The Mail says:
He told how Stewart’s role had been to hide sleeping tablets in her husband’s food.
The BBC says:
“They [jurors] also heard how she encouraged her husband to take a sleeping tablet on the night of the murders. She denied giving him the drug, but admitted that sedating him was also part of Howell’s plan.”
However the pill was administered, Buchanan was then gassed to death.
Howell then drove both bodies to the home where his wife’s deceased father had lived. He connected the hose to the exhaust pipe. He placed Buchanan into the driving seat. He turned on the engine and left.
Stewart tidied and aired the house. She cleared away any evidence.
But in 2009, Howell cracked.
Stewart and Howell had split up. She was living with her new lover, a retired policeman. He had remarried.
But when his eldest son Matthew died, he blamed himself, believing he was cursed. His wife had called out for Matthew as she was being murdered. Howell went to the police.
Howell has already been sentenced to a minimum of 21 years after admitting the murders. In court, he gave evidence against his former lover.
Now she is in jail. The Belfast Telegraph relays the scene, with artistic licence:
Hazel Stewart struggled so hard with her breathing that one of the police officers sitting just to the right of the dock feared she was going to hyper-ventilate.
Lisa, her daughter, sobbed loudly, reached out as if to embrace her, and then cried out: “Oh no, oh no. It’s not fair. No, it’s not fair. It’s not fair.” Andrew, her son, who held his head in his hands as if he was praying for a miracle, wailed in anguish and his stepfather David Stewart, Stewart’s loyal and attentive husband, collapsed in tears. He seemed to have aged 10 years since the trial started
She may yet appeal…