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Dublin: 22 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Hazel Stewart conspired to double murders, court hears

The trial of woman accused of murdering her husband and former lover’s wife heard claims that she changed her story in police statements.

Hazel Stewart, 47, leaving court with her son Andrew after the jury for her trial was sworn in yesterday.
Hazel Stewart, 47, leaving court with her son Andrew after the jury for her trial was sworn in yesterday.
Image: Paul Faith/PA Wire

THE TRIAL OF A WOMAN ACCUSED of murdering her husband and her former lover’s wife has heard that she knew of plans to kill the two in 1991.

Hazel Stewart, 47, from Coleraine, denies murdering her policeman husband Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell in May 1991.

Their deaths were originally treated as a double suicide, but police reopened the investigation less than two years ago after new information came to light.

Stewart’s co-accused and former lover Colin Howell is currently serving a 21-year-minimum sentence for the two killings. His trial heard he had killed his wife and Stewart’s husband as they each slept in their own homes. He afterwards put their bodies into a car and made it appear as a suicide.

A post-mortem showed that they had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Howell, a lay preacher, had confessed to the killings to church elders in 2009.

Today, Hazel Stewart’s trial heard that she had conspired with Howell in the murders. Lawyers for the prosecution claimed that Stewart and Howell had agreed to murder their spouses and cover up their crime, the BBC reports, and that Stewart’s statements to police changed over time.

The lawyers said Stewart told police that she had heard Howell killing her husband, but did not cry out for fear she or her children would be harmed.

The trial continues at Coleraine Court and is expected to last for up to four weeks.

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