Stewart loses appeal over murder

Hazel Stewart, 49, is serving a minimum of 18 years in a prison in Belfast

Hazel Stewart, 49, is serving a minimum of 18 years in a prison in Belfast

First published in National News © by

A former Sunday school teacher's bid to overturn her conviction for murdering the wife of her ex-lover has failed.

The Court of Appeal in Belfast refused Hazel Stewart's appeal against her conviction for the murder of Lesley Howell in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, in 1991.

Stewart was also found guilty of murdering her policeman husband, Trevor Buchanan, as part of a joint enterprise with her former lover, Colin Howell.

The 49-year-old former playgroup assistant dropped her appeal over that conviction ahead of the start of the hearing.

Refusing the appeal over Mrs Howell's murder, Lord Justice Malachy Higgins said: "There is no reason to doubt the safety of this conviction."

After a morning of submissions by defence and prosecution lawyers, the three judges took less than 10 minutes to come back with their decision. Lord Justice Higgins said they would provide a full written ruling at a later date.

Stewart, formerly of Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, was sentenced to 18 years for the murders after a high-profile trial in the town two years ago.

One legal route left open to the mother-of-two could see her defence team appeal against the length of the tariff handed down by Justice Anthony Hart.

Her ex-lover Howell, a once-respected dentist and lay preacher, is serving a 21-year sentence after pleading guilty to gassing their spouses as they slept.

For almost 20 years, police believed the pair took their own lives in a bizarre suicide pact until Howell, apparently wracked by guilt, sensationally confessed to elders in his church.

Comments

Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree