THE senior detective in charge of the double murder investigation spoke of the “emotional wreckage” caused by the killings.
Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray spoke to the media following the conviction of Hazel Stewart for the murders of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan.
“Our thoughts today are with the victims Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan, two young people with their whole lives ahead of them whose lives were cut short in a very calculated, cold and brutal murder.
“No one who has listened to these court proceedings can miss the sheer emotional wreckage that this has left behind across several families.
“I don’t think I have ever felt such tension and such emotion in a court for the delivery of a verdict and it shows how deeply this has scarred absolutely everybody that has been involved.
“I have spoken to both sets of families and have seen them reconciled in the court and that has been very humbling. It has been a privilege to know them and work with them, particularly the Buchanans.
“This was the trial of Hazel Stewart but let’s not forget there were two people involved in this. Colin Howell is equally guilty.
“His coming to court to give evidence does not expunge his guilt for taking two human lives and I think we all need to remember that today.”
Det Supt Murray also paid tribute to Det Sgt Geoff Ferris who conducted the 15 taped interviews with Hazel Stewart, over eight hours of interrogation.
“He is one of the best interviewers in the PSNI and did a fantastic job in getting behind the story.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the Major Incident Team who were very professional.
“I have good officers all around me and that’s what makes it possible to get results like this.”
Det Supt Murray also praised the Public Prosecution Service for their supportive and professional counsel.