Murder accused may have killed herself

Hazel Stewart told police she might have killed herself if she had known detectives were about to arrest her for the murder of her husband and her lover’s wife.

The jury listened to recordings of Stewart’s interviews in Coleraine police station as her trial enters day ten.

A detective asked about her reaction in January 2009, when she drove to her Ballystrone Road home and found police waiting for her.

They were there to arrest her on suspicion of murder following a confession by Howell.

He had admitted murdering his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, and he had claimed Stewart had been his willing accomplice.

Stewart, who denies the two murder charges, is heard telling the detectives: “What could I say? I was not going to lie anymore.

“Maybe if I’d known they were there I would have turned the car off a cliff.”

She is also heard describing how Howell told her to lie to police in order to cover up the murders by claiming the victims had taken their own lives.

“Colin told me to say that Lesley had come round to our house that night, that I’d heard voices, and then Trevor and Lesley had headed out in the car.”

She told the detectives that Howell had spoken previously of his wish to get rid of Trevor and Lesley so that he could be with Stewart.

“This was Colin’s thing. I didn’t know he was going to carry out this act.

“Colin wanted to sort this out and do this act, and I didn’t want it.”

The dentist admits gassing both victims with car exhaust fumes and then staging their bodies to look like a double suicide.

When the bodies were found police seemed to suspect Howell had been up to something.

Stewart told her police interviewers: “The police asked me if Colin was a violent man.”

And when asked if she believed they were suspicious of Howell, Stewart says: “I don’t know, maybe they were.”

In subsequent interviews she is heard describing events inside her Charnwood Park home on the night of the murders.

She says Howell arrived with his wife’s dead body in the boot of the car.

Howell was intending to kill Trevor, but Stewart denies drugging her husband in advance.

“I did not give him medication,” she says. “I had no reason to. It wouldn’t have made any difference.”

A detective responds: “It would have made a difference because now we’ve got a murderer in the house.”

Later Stewart admits giving Howell clothes to dress her murdered husband.

She also admits she cleaned the bedroom where he was killed: opening the window to clear the exhaust fumes, changing the bed-linen, and cutting up and burning the hose Howell used to pump in the fumes.

She tells police she didn’t intervene to stop her husband’s murder. She didn’t wake Trevor, a police officer, and tell him to get his gun.

“I should have done something that night,” she says.

The trial continues.