Killer looks to life after prison

Colin Howell said he was optimistic he would get out of prison some day.
Colin Howell said he was optimistic he would get out of prison some day.

A respected and successful dentist, a devout preacher in Coleraine Baptist Church and a loving father, Colin Howell seemingly had the perfect life.

His cosmetic dentistry business had earned him a tidy fortune before he invested £350,000 of his life savings in a venture to recover Japanese gold in the Philippines which turned out to be a scam.

When consultant psychiatrist Dr Helen Harbinson assessed his personality over six interviews at Maghaberry Prison between 2009 and 2010 - after he was charged with the murders of Trevor Buchanan and his wife Lesley - Howell had fallen from lofty heights.

He had had a total mental breakdown and was a patient in the prison’s psychiatric wing later spending his days as a hospital orderly.

“He does not like much about his character,” wrote Dr Harbinson. “He would however see himself as creative.

“He has thought of writing an allegorical novel while in prison. He does not believe he would be allowed to write a novel about his own experiences, so would write an allegory instead. He thinks with the proceeds he might support himself financially.”

Despite a dark psychotic episode when he first entered prison, Howell had recovered enough to tell the psychiatrist he was “generally optimistic” about his future.

Dr Harbinson wrote: “He believes he wll have a life when he gets out of prison. He is aware that his wife [Kyle] is looking for a divorce but until that is finalised he will keep hopeful of a reconciliation. He also would like to think that he can, in the future, have relationships with his children.”

Dr Harbinson also noted: “He intends to persevere. He believes he has changed since he killed his first wife.

“Before he came into prison he googled double murders. He thought he might get a twenty or thirty year sentence. If he got a twenty year sentence he would be 70 on his release and could live until 90.

“He would therefore have twenty years of freedom before his death. Another reason for his current optimism is a revival of his faith.”