Colin Howell sentenced over indecent assaults

image captionColin Howell admitted the charges at Antrim Crown Court last week

Double murderer and former dentist Colin Howell has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years for indecent assaults on five female patients.

He had pleaded guilty to total of 12 charges of indecent assault last week.

They occurred over a four year period at his dental surgery in Ballymoney. All the women were sedated at the time.

The 52-year-old is already serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife and his former lover's husband in 1991.

The sentence for the assaults will run concurrent to this.

The bodies of Howell's wife, Lesley, 31, and Trevor Buchanan, 32, were found in a car full of exhaust fumes.

It was initially thought that they had died in a suicide pact.

Howell's former lover Hazel Stewart, 48, was also found guilty of killing the pair following her trial in March 2011.

A defence solicitor told Antrim Crown Court that the indecent assaults had only come to light through Howell's admissions to police and he had expressed his regret over them.

Judge Corinne Philpott said it was accepted the assaults were at the lower end of the scale.

However, she added that he had abused his position of trust.

"You are an intelligent man and you had the means to stop yourself from doing this," she told the 52-year-old.

Howell was placed on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.