Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Two charged with killing spouses

The bodies were found in the garage of a house in Castlerock in 1991

The former partners of a man and woman found dead in a fume-filled car in 1991 have been charged with their murders.

Dentist Colin Howell, 50, of Sea Road, Castlerock, and Hazel Stewart, 45, appeared at Coleraine Court on Monday.

They were charged separately with the murders of RUC officer Trevor Buchanan, 31, and Mrs Lesley Howell, 30.

Dr Howell was remanded in custody. Mrs Stewart was granted bail totalling 15,000.

On 19 May 1991, RUC officer Trevor Buchanan and mother-of-four Lesley Howell were found dead in a car in a garage in Castlerock. At the time, a coroner's court ruled that both had committed suicide.

The two accused appeared separately in court on Monday. Dr Howell was led in, handcuffed, and spoke only to confirm his name and that he understood the charges.

He stared straight ahead during the three-minute hearing.

Mrs Stewart sat with her head down and cried as the charges were put to her.

Picture by Mark Jamieson
Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart appeared in Coleraine court

Her husband, a former police officer, gave evidence supporting her bail application.

An investigating officer objected, saying Mrs Stewart had made it clear to his team that if presented with the opportunity, she would take her life.

However, he agreed that he did not believe she would interfere with witnesses. Her husband said she had the support of her two children, who were trying to understand things.

She was released on her own bail of 5,000 and two sureties of 5,000 each.

Both of the accused are due to appear in court in Coleraine next Monday.

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