MONEY was the only reason Colin Howell murdered his wife Lesley, Hazel Stewart’s lawyer insisted yesterday.
The dentist benefited to the tune of £414,000 through her will, life insurance, a hefty endowment payout and money from her late father’s estate, Paul Ramsey QC claimed as he cross-examined the double killer.
“Your murderous intent toward your wife was all about the money,” he declared to Howell as he sat in the witness box.
Mr Ramsey also claimed: “All your financial problems were resolved with the death of your wife.”
But the dentist denied the suggestion and claimed he received only £212,000 as a result of his wife’s death.
Stewart’s lawyers reject the father-of-11’s claim that she plotted with him to kill his wife and her husband Trevor Buchanan 20 years ago so they could be together.
Mr Ramsey delved into Howell’s financial affairs prior to the murders and alleged he was broke and his new dental practice was running at a loss.
The dentist admitted he had financial worries but insisted he was not on the verge of bankruptcy, claiming that his cash flow problems were the result of expected outgoings from buying a new home and business, and due to delays in the NHS paying out between £15,000-£18,000 owed to him.
While those problems meant times were hard, he said they were under control.
Howell claimed one issue was his wife Lesley’s attitude to money, claiming she “hugely overspent”.
He conceded that he told her they were on the verge on bankruptcy, but only in an attempt to curb her expenditure.
“I said that to motivate Lesley to control her spending with clothes and holidays etc,” he said.
But he dismissed Mr Ramsey’s theory that the only reason he murdered his wife was to cash in on her death.
“That’s wrong, totally wrong,” he said.