Killer wife Stewart to be sentenced

A mother jailed for life for murdering her husband and ex-lover's wife is due to hear today how long she must spend in prison.

A mother jailed for life for murdering her husband and ex-lover's wife is due to hear today how long she must spend in prison.

Hazel Stewart (aged 48) from Coleraine, Co Derry, will be brought before Judge Anthony Hart at Belfast Crown Court and told the minimum number of years she has to stay in jail before being considered for release.

Her former lover and co-accused, dentist Colin Howell (aged 52) is already serving a 21-year term after he admitted murdering his wife Lesley (aged 31) and Stewart's first husband, Pc Trevor Buchanan (aged 32) in May 1991.

Howell first gassed his wife and then Constable Buchanan as they slept at their homes in Coleraine before stage managing the deaths to make them look like they killed themselves in a suicide pact.

The bodies were found in a car filled with poisonous carbon monoxide fumes in a garage behind a row of houses known at the Twelve Apostles in the seaside town of Castlerock, Co Derry.

Police reopened the investigation in January 2009 when Howell, a father of 10, admitted he murdered them. Stewart, a mother of two, who later married former police Chief Superintendent David Stewart, was arrested hours later.

She first claimed she wanted no part of Howell's plan to murder, but eventually confessed her role in the deaths before agreeing to concoct a cover-up story which fooled investigating detectives 20 years ago.

A jury unanimously found her guilty at the end of a 15-day trial.

When Howell, of Glebe Road, Castlerock, was sentenced last December he was told by Mr Justice Hart that had he gone before a jury and been found guilty, he would have been sent to prison for 28 years.

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