Northern Ireland

Colin Howell questioned about serious sexual assault claim

Colin Howell
Image caption It is understood the 59-year-old former dentist was brought from jail to be interviewed at a Belfast police station

Convicted double killer Colin Howell was questioned today about a new allegation of serious sexual assault.

It is understood the 59-year-old former dentist was brought from jail to be interviewed at a Belfast police station.

The arrest is believed to be in connection with a complaint relating to an historical incident.

He was later returned to custody pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Howell is currently serving a minimum of 21 years in jail for the murders of his wife and former lover Hazel Stewart's police officer husband.

The bodies of Lesley Howell, 31, and Constable Trevor Buchanan, 32, were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, County Londonderry, in May 1991.

Police originally believed they had died in a suicide pact after discovering their partners were having an affair.

Image caption Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan were murdered in 1991

Nearly two decades passed before Howell suddenly confessed to both killings.

He pleaded guilty to the murders in 2010, implicated Stewart in the plot and went on to give evidence against her at her trial.

In March 2011 she was unanimously convicted of both murders and ordered to serve at least 18 years behind bars.

Since then the former Sunday School teacher has failed in a series of attempts to have the verdicts overturned.

Interviews originally planned for January

Howell is also serving a five and a half year sentence for sexually assaulting five female patients while they were under sedation at his dental surgery in Ballymoney, County Antrim.

He committed those offences over a 10-year period from 1998 and 2008.

Police originally planned to question him back in January about the new sexual assault allegation.

But following a last-minute postponement, those interviews did not take place until today.

Howell was brought from Maghaberry Prison to the cells at Laganside Courts and then transferred directly to the nearby Musgrave Street police station.

He was questioned for a number of hours before being taken back to jail.

A PSNI spokesman said: "A 59-year-old male was interviewed by police today and a file will now be prepared for the Public Prosecution Service."

More on this story