Northern Ireland

Judge refuses to delay Colin Howell/Hazel Stewart trial

Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart (Pic by Mark Jamieson)
Image caption Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart deny murdering their spouses

A judge has refused to further delay the start of the trial of a dentist and his former lover for the 1991 murder of their spouses.

Colin Howell, 51, of Glebe Road, Castlerock, and Hazel Stewart, 47, of Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, are to stand trial next month.

Mr Justice Hart had already agreed to one two-week adjournment.

However, on Friday he told lawyers they "will have to work within the timetable set by the court".

Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, was told psychiatric reports on the former lovers will only be arriving two weeks before the trial date of 22 November.

Prosecution lawyer Neill Connor told the judge the Crown may be seeking their own reports in response which "could result in a little delay".

"The prosecution know the trial date and they will just have to get on with it," said Mr Justice Hart. "I don't intend to put this case back any further."

Howell and Mrs Stewart deny the murders of his 31-year-old wife and mother of four, Leslie and Mrs Stewart's 32-year-old husband Constable Trevor Buchanan.

The bodies of their spouses were found together in a fume-filled car in Castlerock in May 1991 and at the time police believed the pair died in a suicide pact,

However, the cold-case file was reopened by detectives after they recently requestioned the County Londonderry dentist about the deaths.

The 51-year-old dentist, also faces a trial for allegedly sexually abusing five women at his dental implant surgery in Ballymoney over a 10-year period from March 1998 to December 2008.

Earlier this week, Howell, who denies 14 charges of indecent assault involving the women, admitted indecently assaulting two of them along with a third victim.

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