Northern Ireland

Hazel Stewart wants review of one of her murder convictions

Hazel Stewart
Image caption Hazel Stewart was found guilty of two murders

A woman jailed for the murder of her husband and her lover's wife wants a body that reviews possible miscarriages of justice to examine her case.

Hazel Stewart wants the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to look at one of her convictions.

She wants it to refer her conviction for killing ex-lover Colin Howell's wife Lesley to the Court of Appeal.

Separate efforts are also being made to overturn a verdict that she killed her policeman husband Trevor Buchanan.

Her lawyers say they intend to introduce fresh psychiatric and psychological evidence.

They also want to raise disclosure issues connected to another potential witness.

Stewart, 50, is serving a minimum 18-year jail sentence for the murders of Constable Buchanan, 32, and 31-year-old Lesley Howell.

The victims were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, County Londonderry, in May 1991.

Police originally believed they had died in a suicide pact after discovering their partners were having an affair.

They were in fact murdered, before their bodies were arranged to make it look like they had taken their own lives.

Nearly 20 years passed before dentist Howell, 54, suddenly confessed to both killings. He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010 and was ordered to serve at least 21 years behind bars.

Howell also implicated his former lover in the plot and gave evidence against her at her trial.

In March 2011, she was unanimously convicted of both killings by a jury at Coleraine Crown Court.

Earlier this year the mother-of-two failed in her first attempt to overturn the verdict that she murdered Lesley Howell.

At that stage she did not proceed with a challenge to being found guilty of killing her husband.

The Court of Appeal held there was strong evidence that she was a knowing and willing participant in the plan hatched by Howell.

Newly appointed lawyers have now formally asked the CCRC to examine her case and form a view on whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

It could take up to two years before the body reaches a decision. In the meantime Stewart's legal team are also seeking to take her conviction for murdering Constable Buchanan back to the Court of Appeal.

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