Wednesday 23 January 2019

Baptist minister to testify at murder trial

A Baptist minister will be among key witnesses to testify at the trial of Hazel Stewart, a former play school assistant accused of the murders of her policeman husband and ex-lover's wife in Co Derry nearly 20 years ago, a court heard today.

John Hansford was the pastor in Coleraine at the time of the deaths of Constable Trevor Buchanan (32) and Mrs Lesley Howell (31) who were members of his church.

Mr Justice Anthony Hart told a jury that the minister's wife Elizabeth is to be called as well to give evidence.

Stewart (47) -- she later remarried -- has pleaded not guilty to the murders in May 1991 when the bodies of her husband and Mrs Howell were discovered in a car filled with poisonous carbon monoxide fumes in a garage behind a row of houses in Castlerock, Co Derry.

At the time it was thought they had died as a result of a suicide pact because of their distress over the affair, but police reopened the investigation in January 2009 when Mrs Howell's husband, dentist Colin Howell (52), was questioned again by detectives. He was jailed for 21 years last November after he admitted gassing his wife and Constable Buchanan.


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