Colin Howell

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Colin Howell
Colin Howell

Template:8th March and age
Spouse(s)Lesley Clarke (1983–1991)
Kyle Jorgensen (1997–2011)
Conviction(s)Murder, sexual assault
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment for murder (minimum 21 years), 5​12 years for sexual assault
Partner(s)Hazel Elkin (1990–1996)
Span of crimes
18–19 May 1991
CountryNorthern Ireland, United Kingdom
Date apprehended
18 November 2010

Colin Howell (born 14 March 1959) is a Northern Irish convicted double murderer. The murders and surrounding story were the subject of an ITV drama series The Secret, broadcast in April and May 2016.

Howell killed his wife Lesley (née Clarke) and the husband of his lover, Trevor Buchanan (who was an RUC officer), in what appeared to be a suicide pact between the spouses of two lovers. The bodies were found in a fume-filled car in Castlerock on 19 May 1991.[1] In 1998 Howell confessed the murders to his second wife, but she agreed not to inform the authorities. She was investigated following his arrest, but was not charged.[2]

Howell's ex-brother-in-law has since accused him of murdering Harry Clarke. Howell's father-in-law died only 11 days before Lesley.[3][4]

After murdering his wife, Howell received a payout of £400,000.[5] He later lost £350,000 in a get-rich-quick scheme which had claimed to find Yamashita's gold in the Philippines.[6] Howell had been led to believe he would make £20 million; however he only acquired a few brass ammunition boxes, containing silver coins, worth about £30.[7] Howell initially invested £100,000 but over six months, steadily invested more, after being told that the gold was buried under booby-trapped tunnels. He sold his shares in two dental practises and attempted to persuade friends to invest.[8]

He believed that this, and the death of his son, were punishments from God.[9]

Howell, a native of Portadown and a dentist by occupation, was a deeply religious father of ten and a former lay preacher.[10] He married Lesley in July 1983. They were members of the local Baptist church. After his wife's death Howell married Kyle Jorgensen, a native of New York, with whom he had five children.

Howell confessed his role in the murders to elders in his church who urged him to inform police.[11] He pleaded guilty to the murders on 18 November 2010 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was told he must serve a minimum 21-year jail term.[12]

His former lover Hazel (née Elkin, formerly married to Trevor Buchanan, currently married to David Stewart) claimed in court that she acted under duress, but was found guilty of the murders of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan in March 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 18 years.[13][14] The trial judge stated that Hazel Stewart could have prevented Buchanan's death.[15]

Police investigators were later criticized for having overlooked some facts, most notably that the driver's window was open and that Buchanan's leg was hanging out of the open car door; in addition, a witness had told police that Howell had previously tried to murder his wife.[16]

On 17 May 2011 Howell pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine female patients in his surgery over a period of several years.[17] He was consequently stripped of his NHS pension.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ How evil dentist killed his wife and lover's husband Coleraine Times
  2. ^ "Colin Howell's estranged wife 'will not face charges'". BBC News. 2013-11-17. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  3. ^ "Man suspects Colin Howell over father's death". BBC News. 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  4. ^ "Killer dentist's father-in-law 'may have been his third victim'". Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  5. ^ McAleese, Deborah (17 February 2011). "Killer dentist Colin Howell got payout of £400,000 after death of wife". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Colin Howell's estranged wife 'will not face charges'". BBC Newsaccess-date=13 December 2016. 17 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Killer dentist Colin Howell : Failed hunt for Japan's war gold triggered my confession -". Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  8. ^ "Howell conned out of life savings". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  9. ^ "The secret life of Colin Howell". BBC News. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  10. ^ Dentist Colin Howell Admits Double Murder BBC News
  11. ^ "Inside the mind of Colin Howell". BBC News. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  12. ^ Dentist Colin Howell jailed for 21 years for double murder Daily Mirror
  13. ^ BBC Who is Hazel Stewart?
  14. ^ "Hazel Stewart found guilty of murder". 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
  15. ^ "Murderer Stewart could have saved husband". BBC News. 2011-03-16. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  16. ^ Weir, Nicola (2011-12-06). "Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan: police 'overlooked murder clues'". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  17. ^ "Dentist Colin Howell pleads guilty to indecent assaults". The Irish Times. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  18. ^ Fitzmaurice, Maurice (2016-04-27). "Killer Colin Howell's £587k pension axed after convictions for groping patients". belfastlive. Retrieved 2016-12-13.