TRIAL: Accused went berserk over laughing gas dose

HAZEL Stewart went berserk when she feared her lover had given her too much laughing gas before a sex session on his dentist’s chair, her double murder trial heard.

Stewart said she wanted to jump out the window of Colin Howell’s closed surgery in Ballymoney after the incident.

“It made me go ballistic, I freaked out,” she told detectives after her arrest on suspicion of killing her husband and Howell’s wife.

“I knew what he was trying to do and I freaked out.”

Howell has already told his former mistress’s trial at Coleraine Crown Court that he administered drugs through a face mask at his surgery, and once by needle at her home, prior to sex with Stewart because she struggled with guilt after the deaths of their spouses.

He claimed the incident in which she took a panic attack was because of a bad reaction to the sedatives, not because he overdosed her.

Stewart said she was not sure if Howell definitely had sex with her while she was semi-conscious but that he certainly tried.

The mother of two said she initially agreed to being drugged - she said it helped deal with her guilt - but said she became more uneasy with it as it continued.

“I still feel I was cornered into that, pressured into that,” she said.

The trial heard Stewart describe Mrs Howell as very confident, entertaining, clever and a good mother.

She told police that while she knew Lesley Howell she tried to avoid her during the time of her illicit affair with the dentist.

“I knew her and she was very pleasant and quite jolly; you know, entertaining,” Stewart said to detectives during an interview played at her double murder trial.

She added: “(She was) a very pleasant girl, nice looking girl, clever girl, good to her children, she was a nice girl.”

Stewart said that when the affair was discovered her church imposed sanctions that meant she and husband Trevor Buchanan would not see any of the Howells.