Northern Ireland

Colin Howell's estranged wife 'will not face charges'

Colin Howell pleaded guilty to two murders
Image caption Colin Howell was jailed for life for killing his first wife and his lover's husband

The estranged American wife of double murderer Colin Howell who told police she kept his crimes secret for over a decade will not face prosecution.

Kyle Jorgensen, 47, was told by her husband how he gassed his first wife Lesley and his then lover's policeman husband, Trevor Buchanan.

He persuaded her not to inform the authorities for the sake of their children's future.

She had been under police investigation since Howell's arrest in January 2009.

Howell first admitted the 1991 murders to her at the couple's home outside Castlerock, County Londonderry, in the summer of 1998. He was on the verge of handing himself over to the police, but they eventually agreed to stay quiet.

It was Ms Jorgensen who eventually forced him to confess everything to detectives after Howell was swindled out of all his money, including the family's life savings.

Ms Jorgensen left to return to the United States after Howell was arrested by police. She later filed for divorce.

The Public Prosecution Service in Belfast has confirmed she will not face charges.

"The decision was taken not to prosecute in this case because there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction," a spokesperson said.

Ms Jorgensen returned to Florida with their five children and filed for divorce when Howell was jailed for 21 years for murdering Lesley and Constable Trevor Buchanan in May 1991 after he staged managed the deaths to make it look like a suicide pact.

Hazel Stewart, 51, his lover at the time of the murders, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years for her part in the deaths and her role in covering them up.

Image caption The bodies of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan were found in a car

She has already failed in a High Court bid to appeal against her conviction for the murder of Lesley Howell, but is planning a fresh legal move in an attempt to clear her name.

A new legal team, headed up by the Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters, has asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to examine the case and form a view on whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

Ms Jorgensen was interviewed by detectives at her home as well as in Derry and Limavady in the days following the arrests of her husband and Hazel Stewart

She admitted Howell had told her in August or September of 1998 what he had done. She was feeding their first child in the lounge of their house outside Castlerock at the time.

Howell's four children to Lesley, 31, and her two from a failed marriage in Colorado were out with friends at the time. They had just finished dinner and Howell told her there was something he wanted to say.

He revealed how he used a garden hose, connected to the exhaust of his Renault car, to gas Lesley with carbon monoxide fumes as she slept at their home in Coleraine. He then drove across the town to murder Mr Buchanan, 32, by the same method while Hazel waited outside the couple's bedroom before burning the hose as part of a planned cover-up.

Howell then placed the two bodies in the boot, drove to Castlerock and left them in a garage with the engine still running to fool investigating police into believing the pair had taken their own lives.

Howell begged Ms Jorgensen not to say a word to anyone.

She claimed he told her: "Just take a deep breath, take a deep breath. It's waited seven years. You can wait one more day. We need to sort the children."

Ms Jorgensen told police how she contacted her family in America and spoke with friends in the Barn Christian Fellowship, the church outside Ballymoney, County Antrim, to which they belonged.

She had come to live in Portstewart and study Irish at the University of Ulster. She met Howell in December 1996 - not long after Stewart ended her relationship with the dentist - and married him in May the following year.

It was August or September 1998 when, on admitting to having an affair with another women, that he first confessed to the murders. Even though she was distressed and agitated she did not disclose exactly what her husband had admitted.

Ms Jorgensen told police: "I was so freaked out and scared. I felt trapped. I was here alone in Ireland."

Almost 12 years later however it was Ms Jorgensen who called in the church elders, and then asked for the police after he admitted renewing an affair following the tragic death of his eldest son Matthew, as well as abusing women patients while they were heavily sedated at his clinic in Ballymoney, and losing £350,000 - money he invested in a madcap scheme to find hidden gold in the Philippines which included savings set aside for the children's education.

Ms Jorgensen ordered him out of their home before Christmas 2008 and then confronted him in the kitchen in January the following year after he returned from leaving the children at school.

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