TRIAL: They were ‘mercy killings’

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DOUBLE killer Colin Howell came up with the evil plan to murder his wife and the husband of his lover as he lay in bed with his grieving wife.

For the first time we can reveal that Howell saw the murders as “mercy killings” - a pervesere way of ending his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan’s pain over his affair with Hazel Buchanan.

His comments are contained within a 43 page statement taken by police over two days at Maghaberry Prison in November 2010.

Howell tells police why he confessed to the murders and talks openly about his affair with Hazel Stewart and how he came up with his evil plan to murder his wife and Stewart’s husband, Trevor.

He said “Lesley was the victim and product of a husband who didn’t lover her and wasn’t a good husband to her.”

This leads him to speak about Lesley’s state of mind at the time. The devoted mother had just lost her father Harry and was finding it difficult to cope with her husband’s betrayal.

“She [Lesley] was just inconsolable for such a long time, and on the 13th May in bed at about two or three in the morning she sat up, and she said things like ‘my life is destroyed’, ‘Trevor’s life is destroyed’, ‘we will never get over this’, and saying things like that, and then she sat up in bed her eyes brightened up and she said ‘I think I’m going to heaven soon’, and she said also ‘you know maybe you and her were always meant to be together’, and then she lay down and sighed and went to sleep, a really peaceful sleep and when she said that I felt this almost like love for her and I thought ‘I can help you’

He added: “And in a moment the whole idea was born.”

He recalls the plan to murder Lesley and Trevor coming into his head, as he lay in bed, at the family home at Knocklayde Park in Coleraine. He goes on to admit that he believed he could send his wife and Trevor Buchanan to ‘a place of peace’ if he murdered them.

Howell recounts speaking with Detective Inspector Jack Hutchinson, who investigated the deaths in 1991. He remembers Hutchinson’s chilling words to him: ‘No one can ever really get away with a murder’.

He said it made him think about the inquest, and how something may become clear. “There was a little niggle of a worry that the inquest would reveal something and then I’d be arrested,” he told police.

Speaking about the continuation of his relationship with Stewart after the funerals, Howell admits that guilt played a part and that he and Hazel believed that if they didn’t have sex God would help them. After they had sex, he said ‘the guilt kicked in like a bullet’.

He speaks about their relationship ending, and about Stewart going behind his back to see Trevor McAuley.

He reveals that Hazel covered up her new relationship by telling him that McAuley’s Mazda car was her in fact her sister Thelma’s.

Stewart warned him off by saying: “If you ever see that car don’t come in, she can’t stand you”.

Howell adds: ‘So she made me believe that this little green car was her sister who hated me.”

He is scathing about Stewart’s subsequent relationships which he said were “built upon deception”

“I was disgusted with myself and with her and the whole thing. I finally saw it, I’d already seen it, but it just proved to me the mess that it was and how twisted it was, how wrong it was, how messed up she was, how messed up I was, co-equally responsible for everything that happened you know, so the reason that she is saying that I forced her, and it’s my fault, is because she now is trying to maintain relationships that are built on deception and lies, with her current husband David Stewart, the children Andrew and Lisa, and if she now tells the truth, the same thing’s going to happen to her as happened to me since my arrest.

“You’re left with nothing, and you know thank God I’m not left with nothing ‘cause Lauren comes to see me and my dad, and so I’m only left with grace and people are willing to receive me, for the first time I can be real with people, that’s wonderful.

“I would hope that at the right time and only when the victims are ready to hear it, that I will wish to express my deep regret and my sincere remorse of what I have done for taking the lives of Trevor who was a truly good man and a faithful husband and good father to Andrew and to Lisa, and to Lesley who was a faithful wife and a loving wife and a mother to Matthew, to Lauren, to Daniel and to Johnny and sister to his her brother Chris Clarke.

“To all the Buchannan’s obviously who are deeply affected by that , many loyal friends of Trevor and Lesley so in time I hope they can release me for their sake, thank you.”