Stewart becomes a grandmother

Hazel Stewart led by husband David with her children Andrew and Lisa and other family members at her double murder trial.
Hazel Stewart led by husband David with her children Andrew and Lisa and other family members at her double murder trial.

CONVICTED killer Hazel Stewart could be receiving prison visits from a new family member, after becoming a grandmother.

It is understood that her son Andrew Buchanan and his wife Claire have celebrated the birth of their first child in the last few weeks.

Andrew was just seven years old when his father Trevor was gassed to death in the family home by his mother’s then lover Colin Howell. In an emotional television interview after the murder trial, Andrew and his sister Lisa refused to accept his mother’s guilt or place any blame upon her.

“We love our father and our mother,” he said. “We are not taking any sides.”

Stewart is serving a minimum sentence of 18 years in the women’s prison at Hydebank for the murders of her husband, Constable Trevor Buchanan, 32, and 31-year-old Lesley Howell.

The victims were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in May 1991.

Initially, police believed they had died in a suicide pact after discovering their partners were having an affair. They were, in fact, murdered before their bodies were arranged to make it look like they had taken their own lives.

It took nearly two decades for the truth to emerge when Howell, 52, confessed to both killings.

He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010 and is serving a minimum of 21 years in prison.

Howell also implicated his former lover in the plot and gave evidence against her at her trial.

In March last year a jury at Coleraine Crown Court found Stewart guilty on two counts of murder.

On Friday, it was revealed in court that Stewart has recently undergone psychiatric examinations.

Her appeal against verdicts that she murdered her husband and the wife of her ex-lover may be delayed until next year due to the time it has taken to carry out the assessments.

Lawyers acting on her behalf are expected to wait until they receive the medical report next month before deciding whether to seek to have fresh evidence admitted in their challenge.