A dentist who murdered his wife and ex lover’s husband then covered it up as suicide has apologised for killing two innocent and honourable people as verdicts delivered at the original inquest were overturned.
Colin Howell, 52, who concealed the murders of Lesley Howell and policeman Trevor Buchanan for almost 20 years before confessing to elders in his church, told a coroner in Belfast that he wished he could turn back time.
The former lay preacher and Mr Buchanan’s widow Hazel Stewart, 48, are now serving life terms for the double murder in Coleraine in 1991.
At the start of a new inquest into the deaths, a letter Howell wrote from his prison cell in Maghaberry high security jail was read to the court.
“I wish I could turn back time but I cannot, and I am helpless to offer up any good thing except for my acts of remorse and the hope of healing for my victims who have been so deeply impacted and wounded by me,” he stated.
“I am so sorry.”
The bodies of Mrs Howell, 31, and Mr Buchanan, 32, were found in a car in a fume-filled garage in the seaside town of Castlerock. The dentist had staged the scene after poisoning the pair with gas piped from his car exhaust as they slept in their own homes in nearby Coleraine.
Northern Ireland’s senior coroner John Leckey re-registered the deaths as carbon monoxide poisoning by homicide after a short hearing attended by relatives of both victims.
During the inquest a police officer confirmed that close friends of the deceased had expressed concerns that the deaths were suspicious to police at the time of the original investigation.