We rejoice in the truth, so clearly stated in the Scriptures that there is no wrath in store for those whom God has justified through faith in Jesus Christ, and that they have, by His grace, perfect deliverance from condemnation, so that there is no controversy here.  But while there is no wrath and no condemnation for those that are in Christ, they are to expect chastening and discipline. Chastening is radically different from wrath.  The latter is the portion of those who reject the Gospel; the former is wholly for believers.  In 1 Cor. 11: 32 the contrast between chastening and condemnation is sharply drawn: When we (believers) are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.’”







Every single day of the three-week long trial, Hazel Stewart entered and excited Coleraine Courthouse amid the impressively protective huddle of her immediate family.  With her hand wrapped securely in his, her second husband David Stewart would walk on one side, occasionally nodding reassurance or smiling encouragement.


Lisa, her daughter by Hazel’s first husband, the murdered Trevor Buchanan, would take the other side, the young woman’s blond head held high, her eyes steadfastly focused ahead, her fingers often entwined around her mother’s other hand.


And then finally there was the sad-eyed Andrew, the son Hazel also had with Trevor, bringing up the rear as the family group passed through the phalanx of Press and television cameras.  And no wonder the cameras were there to record every forensic detail of this quartet’s progress…


For this has surely been one of the most compelling court cases of our times.  A case that has intrigued and shocked, that has brought together sex and religion, seeming respectability - glamour even - and sordid, heartless murder.


It is a case that has twinned soap opera plot with Biblical backdrop - mixing in lust and greed, adultery and murder.


And above all cruel, callous betrayal.


It is a story which began in the devout church community where Colin Howell and the then Hazel Buchanan met and which ended in chilling horror at dead of night behind a row of houses known as The Twelve Apostles.


Yet the Hazel Stewart who walked into court each day could hardly have looked less like a woman involved in such a hideous plot.


Undoubtedly good-looking despite the obvious strain increasingly scored upon her face, the 47-year-old Stewart (her 48th birthday fell during the closing days of her trial) was always immaculately presented.


Make-up understated but artful; hair subtly highlighted.


The green brocade coat for her earlier appearances was soon swapped for a plum, boucle wool number that became her standard.


Neat, businesslike, but warm and soft.


It was a masterclass in ‘dressing for defendants’.


Hazel never actually took the stand.  And the former Sunday school teacher gave little away either as she listened to the evidence, including those searching police tapes of her interviews (in media reports of her trial the same phrase is used time and time again to describe her demeanour – ‘showed no emotion’).  Only when she listened to herself speak of her fear about losing her husband (David) and her son and daughter did she cry.  Yet throughout much of the grim, dreadful revelation of her role in the murder of the man who was the father of her children, she remained impassive.


Soft.  That was the word Hazel used on the tapes to describe herself.


My personality is soft and weak and vulnerable, and he (Howell) had full control of me.  I was easy prey,’ she said at one point.


I was a soft, easy target,’ she told police at another time.  Soft?  A woman who, by her own admission, checked in the boot of the car to see the body of her lover’s murdered wife, who stood with her hands over her ears while her own drugged husband cried out as he was mercilessly killed, who cut up and burned the hosepipe used to gas him, laid out the fresh clothes his corpse was to be dressed in, and changed the very sheets of the bed where he fought for life.


Soft?  A woman who kept her steely nerve and brazenly lied to police in the immediate aftermath of that double killing.  Who backed up her lover’s cover story, and only weeks after her murdered husband was laid to rest resumed her affair with the man who, with his bare hands, had taken his life.




Hazel Stewart was not the one who finally snapped.  It was Colin Howell (51) who finally came clean in January 2009 - first to church elders then to the police.


His affair with Hazel had continued for a number of years after the double murder.  The pair had gone on holidays together to Newcastle and to the Lake District.


Soft may be how Hazel Stewart sees herself.


But she carried the black secret of that gruesome night for 17 long years, keeping it from Trevor’s children and from her wider family, who never truly believed that their brother did indeed take his own life.


She kept it from her second husband too.


From the man who loyally stood by her after her arrest and throughout the case.  David Stewart - a policeman, like her first husband - is among those now paying the price for her wickedness and her terrible deceit.


For just as Hazel Stewart has been at the heart of the protective bubble of her immediate family’s love, so too is she at the centre of the malign ripples that affect so many other innocents in this case.


What, you wonder, can now be going through the heads and the hearts of her two children?


Lisa and Andrew were 10 and nine when their father was murdered.  Old enough to remember him.  How desperately torn must they have been as they listened to those damning police interviews?  And small comfort, in this delayed justice, for the dignified family of Trevor Buchanan.


Or for Lauren, Colin Howell’s poor daughter who as attended the case alongside the Buchanan family.


Lauren has lost not only her murdered mother Lesley, but also her brother Matt, who died at the age of 22 in an accident in Russia in 2007.


Her father is in prison.  She is left to pick up the pieces.


Hard to argue, then, with the interviewing officer Detective Sergeant Ferris who could be heard on those incriminating tapes telling the “soft” woman at the centre of all this misery: “It was vicious in relation to what you did, both of you.  You showed no regard for your partners, for their families, and no regard for your own children.


You made that decision that you could live with your two children, aged only nine and 10 at the time, and you agreed to a plan that resulted in the father of your two children being murdered in the very house where they lay sleeping.


It can’t get any colder.”













The Provocation



In Heb. 3: 4, 5, 6, Christ is compared with Moses, who was faithful as a servant in all God’s House, for a testimony of the things which were to be spoken subsequently (which we take to be the things which we have heard).  Christ, however, is not a servant in God’s House, but Son over His House; and then follows the statement that directly concerns us: Whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm to the end!’  What follows is given for the purpose of teaching us what is meant by holding fast the confidence and rejoicing (or, as it has been otherwise rendered, the boldness and boasting) of the hope firm to the end.  That such is the purpose is evident from the fact that the next words are ‘Wherefore (omitting the parenthesis to end of verse 11) take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.’  For information as to what is meant by departing from the living God as the result of unbelief, we are referred to the ninty-fifth Psalm, the last part of which is quoted in full and declared to be the saying of the Holy Spirit.



From this we learn that the period denominated To-day is the present day of our sojourn and pilgrimage on earth; and that the end,’ unto which we are again and again admonished to hold fast our confession and our confidence, is the end of our pilgrim journey.  We learn further that the danger against which we are so pointedly and earnestly warned is something that corresponds to the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness,’ the dire consequence of which was that God swore in His wrath that those who provoked should not enter into His rest.  What, then, was the provocation,’ and what does it stand for as a type?  Turning to Numbers 14. we find at verse 11 the words And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people PROVOKE Me? and how long will it be ere they BELIEVE Me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?’  And at verse 23: ‘Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that PROVOKED Me see it.’



Here we have the provocation and the penalty.  The provocation was not a single act, but - the culmination of a series of acts.  The Lord’s question was How long will this people provoke Me?’  And in verse 22 He spoke of them as those men which ... have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not hearkened unto My Voice.’  Therefore, it will be profitable to trace the steps which culminated in provoking the irrevocable punishment inflicted on those whom God still owned as His people, and over whom He still continued to watch in the wilderness where they were condemned to remain.  If we take care to avoid the first step of the provocation we shall not incur the indignation.



In the latter part of Numbers 10. we read of the journeyings of the Israelites under the guidance of Jehovah, the Shepherd of Israel, the Ark of the covenant going before to search out a resting place for them; and we read also the words that Moses uttered when the Ark set forward, and when it rested.  Nevertheless, at the beginning of chap. 11. we find a record of the people complaining, and of the Lord’s displeasure thereat.  The occasion or subject of the complaint is not stated.  Any complaint, therefore, concerning the incidents of our pilgrimage, may be the starting point of departure from the living God.  We need to learn obedience and contentment by the things we suffer; as the Apostle Paul could say, I have LEARNED, in whatsoever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4: 11).  This contentment does not come by nature, it must be ‘learned’.  Let us, then; watch ourselves and check every tendency to complain of the hardships of the journey.



The next incident is recorded in Numb. 11: 4-6:



And the mixt multitude* that was among them fell a lusting; and the children of Israel also wept again, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat?  We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic.  But now our soul is dried away.  There is nothing at all beside this manna before our eyes.’


[* NOTE.  To come to the conclusion, as some Christians do today, that ‘the mixt multitude that was among them,’ were not regenerate souls, but unregenerate ‘professors’ only! - is to have completely missed the point of the Apostle’s warnings addressed: “unto the church of God at Corinth’!  See 1 Corinthians, chapters 5, 6,  and 10. 


Replacement Theology,’ so popular today amongst Anti-millennialists, would have us believe that God does not really mean what He says; and “the Land of Promise” is not upon this earth, but in heaven! 


When these passages are studied together, it is abundantly apparent that the promise concerned (1) the land, (2) the [redeemed] people, and (3) the Messiah (in Whom all nations of the earth would be blessed).  As Jehovah is a faithful God, He will keep all three parts of the covenant [made with Abraham], and the fact that persons from nations other than the Jewish people are blessed in the Messiah is no proof that God will not keep His promises concerning the land and the [Jewish] nation.  In fact, it is a strong indication that He will perform ALL that He has spoken:S. A. Toms.]



So the next step in the provocation came through the mixt multitude which had come up with them out of Egypt (Ex. 12: 38).  It is dangerous for the people of God to have a mixt multitude among them.’  These are sure to give voice to their desires, and thus stir up the flesh in the believer.  Recollections of Egypt were revived.  And here the deceitful heart and memory played a trick that is common enough, though hard to explain.  All the asperities of their oppression in Egypt, the cruel servitude, the bitter bondage, the task-master’s lash, the harsh increase of the burden, were entirely forgotten.  The great wonders wrought by the Hand of the Lord and His mighty deliverance out of the house of bondage, were also forgotten.  They recalled only the things of Egypt which serve to satisfy the natural appetite.  They despised the bread of God, which He supplied daily for their recurring needs, and craved the food of Egypt.  They were thus the types of those whom Paul characterizes as enemies of the Cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, who glory in their shame, who mind earthly things’ (Phil. 3: 18, 19).



The manna which God supplied to His people in the wilderness stands for the Word of God on which His people are privileged now to feed, that they may be nourished up in the words of faith’ (1 Tim. 4: 6).  From this we may learn that it is a very serious matter to slight the Word of God.  To do so is to neglect the appropriate spiritual food which God, in His goodness, has supplied, in order that we may be nourished and strengthened to bear the trials of the way.  Disinclination to feed on the Word is a common complaint among Christians, particularly among such as have fellowship with the mixed multitude of Christendom, who have no taste at all for the bread of life.  Let us take careful note of this, and not permit either the habits of our neighbours or the pressure of things about us, to divert us from the daily, deliberate, meditative reading of the Word of God.  Regular attention to this important matter will go far towards fitting us to overcome the severe trials that surely lie in our path.  The reading matter of the day, that is devoured by the people of the world, and by the mixed multitude, is utterly unfit for the people of God.  Not only is it quite void of spiritual nutriment, but it vitiates the taste therefor.  Much of the religious literature of the day is no better, and some of it is even worse.  The attempt to make spiritual things palatable, by means of artistic and literary expedients, is sure evidence of a state of spiritual decline, which may end in apostasy.  It is written of the Israelites that they subjected the manna to culinary expedients in order to make it more palatable, not relishing it in the state in which God gave it to them.  For the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it’ (Numb. 11: 8).  But that did not satisfy them; for eventually they came to such a pass as to say, ‘Our soul loatheth this light bread’ (Numb. 21: 5).  It is safe to say that, of the literature of the day, not the thousandth part contains any spiritual nutriment; and beside that, it must be remembered that the very soundest and most spiritual books cannot take the place of the Word of God. This admonition applies to the old and young alike.



To despise the provision which the Lord has made for His people is to despise the Lord Himself, as He said on the occasion we are now considering, Ye have despised the Lord Who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?’ (Numb. 11: 20).



God has taken pains to teach us very plainly and forcibly the seriousness of neglecting our spiritual food, which He supplies, namely, the words of eternal life.  The incident of the preference of the Israelites for the food of Egypt is rehearsed in Psalm 78.  There it is written, And they sinned yet more against Him by provoking the Most High in the wilderness.  And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust’ (ver. 17, 18). And the reason is given, ‘Because they BELIEVED NOT in God, and trusted not in His salvation, though He had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of Heaven, and had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of Heaven.  Man did eat angels’ food’ (ver. 22-25).  The brief explanation is that THEIR HEART was not right with Him’ (ver. 37).



Again in Psalm 106 the incident is recited in detail; and, as we have already seen, Psalm 95. refers prominently and pointedly to the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness.



Proceeding with the record given in Numbers, we find 3 chap. 12. the sedition of Aaron and Miriam against Moses, which amounted to rebellion against the Word of God, Who spoke through Moses.  Aaron and Miriam wished their utterances to have the same authority as those of Moses.  And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us?’  Many among professed christians are saying the same thing to-day, putting the uninspired words of man on the same level with the Word of God.  Those who were most closely related to Moses refused him that spake on earth’ (Heb. 12: 25), and they did not escape punishment.



Chap. 13. relates another step in the departure of the Israelites from the living God, giving a further manifestation of the existence in themselves of an evil heart of unbelief.’  The subject of this chapter is the sending of the spies to investigate and report upon the Promised Land.  They believed not God’s report concerning the land.  His announcement did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard.  So they sent chosen leaders to spy the land, with instructions to SEE the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents or in strong holds; and what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein or not’ (ver. 18, 19, 20).



From Deut. 1: 22 we learn that the sending of the spies was the act of the people, God permitting them in all these matters to have their own way, which they preferred to His.  They saw His works, but did not know or desire His ways.  Moses in his farewell words to the people said:



And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us.  Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee.  Go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee.  Fear not, neither be discouraged’ (Deut. 1: 20-22).



This surely should be enough for those who had faith in God.  But their heart was not right with Him.’  They did not hold the beginning of their confidence, in which they set out from Egypt, stedfast unto the end.  They wished to see the land,’ not believing the word of the report concerning the things not seen.’  So the account continues:



And ye drew near unto me, every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land and bring us word again by what way we must go up and into what cities we shall come’ (ver. 23).



Two things are prominent in this action of the congregation of Israel; first, that they had more confidence in the report of men than in that of God; and, second, that they had more confidence in the guidance of human leaders than in that of God, notwithstanding that He, as Moses reminds them, went in the way before you to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night to show you the way ye should go, and in a cloud by day’ (ver. 33).



Taking the two accounts (that in Numbers and that in Deuteronomy) together, we may see that God was virtually ignored by His people.  They did not consider His purpose or will in the matter, or even consider whether He had a will as to their entering the land of their inheritance.  They disregarded His promise made to them in Egypt that He would ‘bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Ex. 3: 8).  They acted as if they lacked trustworthy information concerning that land; as if their entering or not was a matter for their own choice after due investigation and deliberation, and as if, in case they should decide to enter, they would have to determine for themselves the route to take.



Can it be denied that there are Christians - in name, at least, and probably in fact as well - who are acting similarly with reference to the things which we have heard concerning the habitable earth to come, the Rest that remaineth unto the people of God?  We apprehend that the number of such is great.  Let us fear, therefore, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.’



Let it be noted that it was those who had heard the announcement of God that provoked Him by the way in which they acted with regard to the things announced.  For some, when they had heard, did provoke’ (Heb. 3: 16).  The announcement was perfectly plain.  It could not be misunderstood, although it could be treated with indifference, slighted and neglected.



Now, it is expressly stated that good things have been announced to us, as well as unto them’ (Heb. 4: 2).  This is not the preaching of the gospel of God’s grace to the unconverted.  It is the announcement by God Himself of good things to come, which He has prepared for those who love Him and manifest their love by holding fast the beginning of their confidence in Him steadfast unto the end.  This is the ‘word’ which will not profit, if not mixed with faith in us who have distinctly heard it.



The action of the congregation of Israel in the matter of the spies teaches plainly the lesson that when the people of God are lacking in the energy of faith, by reason of insufficient spiritual nourishment, due to their own neglect of the Word of God, the effect is to throw them back upon the resources of nature, and upon the methods and means of the natural man, even in matters connected with their spiritual concerns.  This is a condition that widely prevails at the present day.  On every hand we see attempts at producing spiritual results by means of natural agencies, and the consequences are deplorable indeed.  All these fleshly activities are outward manifestations of the inward presence of an evil heart of unbelief; and the source of it all is the failure to heed, believe, and obey the Word of God.



The spies returned and reported to the congregation the things that they had seen, which, in the state of their heart towards God, outweighed the things that He had spoken concerning the land.  They brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched’ (Numb. 13: 32).  God describes the action of the spies as bringing up a slander on the land’ (Numb. 14: 36).  In Psalm 106., God says, Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His Word’ (ver. 24).  And this unbelief culminated in the rebellion recorded in Numb. 14.



And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.’  This was the last step in their departure from God, and brought upon them the judgment of being shut out from the land which they had despised.



In studying this incident, in the light of what is said of it in the Psalms and in Hebrews, we observe that the action of the congregation of Israel was the natural outcome of the state of their heart.  Their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His covenant’ (Psa. 78: 37).  Accordingly, in applying the lesson to us, the Holy Spirit has much to say about the state of our hearts.  These are the exhortations that are spoken in our ears: The Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts.  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.’  While it is said, To-day, if ye will near His Voice, harden not your heart.  Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long a time; as it is said, To-day, if ye will hear His Voice, harden not your hearts’ (3: 8, 12, 15; 4: 7).  The Word of God which lays everything bare, as the two-edged knife of the priest exposed all the inward parts of the offering, pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (4: 12).  All our hidden thoughts and intents are laid open to the Eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.  And it is because of this that God has given to us the services of a great High Priest Who has passed through the heavens,’ and a throne of grace to which we have access by His Name and in the merits of His Sacrifice on our behalf,



Special attention should be paid to the consequences of the provocation, as announced in these words of the Lord to Moses: Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it.’  As I live, saith the Lord, AS ye have spoken in My Ears, SO will I do to you.  Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against Me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun’ (Numb. 14: 23, 28, 29, 30).



Briefly, then, the punishment visited upon the Israelites consisted in giving them what they had preferred. They preferred not to enter the land; and God granted them their choice.  It seems that, when the people of God desire their own ways, in preference to His, He often allows them to have their desire.  When they longed for the food of Egypt He gave them a surfeit of flesh; but while the flesh was between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague’ (Numb. 11: 33).  So in the Lord’s dealings with His people to-day, those who long for the enjoyments, indulgences, pleasures etc., which this world affords, are often permitted to have them; but sometimes ere they can derive any satisfaction therefrom - ere it was chewed - they are cut off in the midst of their carnal pleasures according as it is plainly declared, if ye (believers) live after the flesh ye shall die’ (Rom. 8: 13).



In the words of Psalm 78: 29-31: ‘So they did eat, and were well filled; for He gave them THEIR OWN DESIRE; they were not estranged from their lust.  But while the meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel  And in the words of Psalm 106: 13-15: ‘They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.  AND HE GAVE THEM THEIR REQUEST; but sent leanness into their soul.’



Once more, when the people wished to investigate the land for themselves by chosen representatives, God again gave them their desire.  He allowed the whole congregation to be halted for forty days, while the leaders of Israel, one man from each tribe, searched the land concerning which God Himself had given them a report. But for every day they thus hindered the carrying out of His promise - a promise made four hundred years previous to Abraham, and renewed to them through Moses - they were condemned to spend a year in the wilderness.  After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty Years, and ye shall know My breach of promise (or estrangement)’ (Numb. 14: 34).



And finally, when the people turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel’ (Psa. 78: 41), and said, Would God we had died in this wilderness’ (Numb. 14: 2), God again gave them their wish, saying, As ye have spoken in Mine Ears so will I do to you’ (14: 28).



This should teach us to search our hearts, by the light of God’s Word, for any desires which are not in accord with His revealed purpose for us.  In the particular case which we are now studying, it is God’s revealed purpose to lead many sons unto glory; and it is necessary to the accomplishment of this purpose that they should give heed to, and obey, the word spoken to them.  This purpose of God is not for their satisfaction only, or chiefly.  It is primarily for His own satisfaction, and for the glory of His First-Begotten, Who glorified Him in the earth, and Who is now waiting for the joy that was set before Him when He endured the Cross.  It is an exceedingly serious matter to hinder this purpose of the Father.  He has graciously made it known to us, and great will be our loss if we set not our hearts in line with its accomplishment.  If, therefore, we allow and cherish in our hearts desires for the seen things of this age, giving them preference over the things which we have heard but have not seen as yet,’ then, regardless of our Christian name and profession, we do provoke God, and render ourselves liable to such consequences as the Israelites brought upon themselves; that is to say, we may fail to enter into the Rest that God has announced to us, and be condemned instead to have our portion in the wilderness of this age, and in the things that pertain to it, according to the desire of our hearts.



It is important to observe that those who provoked God in the wilderness by their unbelief and disobedience, and who were in consequence shut out of the Promised Land, did not cease to be the Lords people, and that He did not refuse to pardon their iniquity.  Moses interceded for them, as he had done at Sinai, and said, Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of Thy mercy, and as Thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.  And the Lord said, I HAVE PARDONED according to thy word’ (Numb. 14: 19, 20).



By this we are taught that God’s pardon to His [redeemed] children does not mean the remission of the appropriate consequences of their wrong-doing.  That is what we usually mean when we ask forgiveness of our sins; but God’s pardon is something different from that.  It is written that every transgression and disobedience receives ‘a just recompence of reward (Heb. 2: 2); and again, that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6: 7).  And again, that everyone shall receive ‘the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (2 Cor. 5: 10).  And again, He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done’ (Col. 3: 25).  God’s pardon means that He does not cast away His people though He punishes their sins; as said the Psalmist: ‘Thou answeredst them, O Lord our God: Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions’ (Psa. 99: 8; 9: 8).  He shut the disobedient people out of the Land of Promise; but He Himself accompanied them [in the desert].  The pillar of cloud and fire never left them.  The manna never failed.  For about the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness’ (Acts 13: 18).  We often think of what they suffered, and seldom of what God suffered.  Nevertheless, in all their affliction, He was afflicted.’  See also Neh. 9: 19.



God’s dealings with David impressively teach the same lesson.  Immediately upon David’s confession of sin, Nathan said, The Lord also hath put away thy sin’ (2 Sam. 12: 13).  Nevertheless, the punishment for the sin was not remitted or abated.  The sword never departed from David’s house, and the other items of his punishment were fully carried out, according to the Word of the Lord (2 Sam. 12: 10-12).



As we have seen, the righteous retribution which God visits upon His people, frequently takes the form of permitting them to have the preference of their own hearts.  It was thus when the people said, Give us a king to judge us’ (1 Sam. 8: 6).  God first warned them clearly by His prophet Samuel what would happen to them if they rejected Him and chose a human king to rule over them (ver. 9-18).  Nevertheless, the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations’ (19-20).  So God gave them a king in His anger, and not only so, but He gave them just such a king as their own hearts desired.



On another greater and more solemn occasion, a choice was presented to the people.  The choice then offered them lay between Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Barabbas, the murderer.  And they all cried saying, Not this man, but Barabbas’ (John 18: 40).  The apostle Peter subsequently reminded the people of Israel of that choice saying, Ye denied the Holy One and the just, and desired a murderer to, be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life’ (Acts 3: 15).  That choice was in reality the choice of the princes (or rulers) of this world’ (1 Cor. 2: 8); and accordingly; God allowed the world to have the ruler it preferred; for the Devil, who has the power of death, is the prince (or ruler) of this world’ (John 14: 30); and he was a murderer from the beginning’ (John 8: 44).



Before leaving the record of the provocation in Numb. 14., we would direct attention to the remarkable promise found in verse 21: ‘But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.’ It is a very significant fact that the Lord, in pronouncing the judgment that excluded - the disobedient people from the land of Canaan, should have uttered and recorded an oath which is to have its fulfilment in ‘the habitable earth to come,’ whereof Canaan was the type.



The essence of the lesson put before us in the incidents of the Provocation is that, when God, having redeemed for Himself a people at a great price, and having revealed to them His mighty power and His tender mercy, speaks to, them of a place of wondrous blessing which He Himself has chosen for them, and into which He purposes to bring them; and when those to whom this purpose is revealed despise the pleasant land and manifest a preference for the things they are leaving behind them, God’s fiery indignation is aroused against them, insomuch that He shuts them out of the promised blessing, and leaves them to a dreadful alternative.



The same lesson is taught by the Lord Himself in the parable of the great supper (Luke 14: 16-24).  The Lord had been speaking of recompense at the Resurrection of the just whereupon one of those that sat at table with Him said: Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God’ (ver. 14, 15).  The general subject of the parable, therefore, is ‘the Kingdom of God,’ which will be introduced at the Resurrection of the just [or ‘righteous*]; and the specific subject is the blessing of eating bread (which signifies the satisfaction of the soul) in that Kingdom.  A certain man made a GREAT supper and bade many!’ This great supper represents the good things to come,’ to which the saints of this era are invited.  But the invited guests were more interested in the things of their immediate surroundings than in the great supper.  Their conduct revealed the preference of their hearts.  Therefore the lord of the household was angry,’ and sent out his servant to bring others in (‘seeing therefore that some must enter thereinHeb. 4: 6), in order that his house might be filled.  And concerning those who lightly esteemed his invitation, he declared, I say unto you that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper!’  They preferred not to come, and he left them to the consequences of their choice.


[* NOTE.  This is not to be understood as a ‘Resurrection’ of all who are ‘justified by faith’ through the imputed righteousness of Another; but a ‘Resurrection’ of those whose personal, active righteousnesses, will have been judged to have fulfilled the Lord’s required standard to ‘enter into the Kingdom of heaven’: it is a righteousness, which has to be shown to have exceeded that of “of the scribes and Pharisees” (Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21, R.V.).]



How, then, shall we escape if we, after the same example of unbelief, make light of and neglect so great salvation,’ whereof a beginning was spoken by the Lord?


- Quoted  from . ‘God’s Pilgrims’ by PHILIP MAURO






The Terrible Sin


2 Samuel 11



In the Psalms of David two very different characters come before us again and again.  In some of those Psalms there is expressed the sorrows of one who is consciously righteous, suffering the reproaches of the wicked, yet assured of strength in God, and looking forward to that fulness of joy which is at His right hand.  In other Psalms we hear the sobbings of a convicted conscience, a heart deeply exercised over personal transgression, seeking after divine mercy, and being granted a blessed sense of the infinite sufficiency of divine grace to meet his deep need.  Now, those two characters in the Psalms correspond to the two principal stages in David’s life as portrayed, respectively, in the first and second books of Samuel.  In I Samuel we see him brought from obscurity unto honour and peace, upheld by God in righteousness amid the persecution of the wicked.  In the latter we behold him descending from honour, through sin, into degradation and turmoil, yet there learning the amazing riches of divine grace to bear with and pardon one who fell into such deep mire.



Solemn indeed is the contrast presented of David in the two books of Samuel: in the former he is conqueror of the mighty Goliath: in the latter he is mastered by his own lusts.  Now the sins of God’s servants are recorded for our instruction: not for us to shelter behind and use for palliating our own offences, but for us to lay to heart and seek with all our might to avoid.  The most effectual means against our repeating their sins is to keep from those things which lead up to or occasion them.  In the preceding chapter we pointed out that David’s fearful fall was preceded by three things: the laying aside of his armour at the very time it was his duty to gird on the sword; the indulging in slothful ease in the palace, when he should have been enduring hardness as a soldier on the battlefield; the allowing of a wandering eye to dwell upon an unlawful object, when he should have turned it away from beholding vanity.



Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matt. 26: 41).  Prayer of itself is not sufficient: we have not fully discharged our duty when we have asked God to lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  We must watch, be on the alert, noting the direction of our desires, the character of our motives, the tendency of things which may be lawful in themselves, the influence of our associations.  It is our inner man which we most need to watch: Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life’ (Prov. 4: 23).  Then, if we are faithful and diligent in ‘watching,’ out of a sense of our personal weakness and insufficiency, it is in order to pray,’ counting on the help of our gracious God to undertake for us.  To praywithout watching is only to mock God, by seeking to shelve our responsibility.



Prayer was never designed by God as a substitute for personal effort and diligence, but rather as an adjunct thereto - to seek divine grace for enabling us to be dutiful and faithful.  Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving’ (Col. 4: 2).  Not only does God require us to watch before we pray, but we are also to watch immediately after.  And again we say, that which we most need to watch is ourselves.  There is a traitor within our own breast, ever ready and desirous of betraying us if allowed the opportunity of so doing.  Who had thought that such an one as David would ever experience such a fearful fall as he had!  Ah, my reader, not even a close walk with God, or a long life of eminent piety, will eradicate or even change the sinful nature which still abides in the saint.  So long as we are in this world we are never beyond the reach of temptation, and nought but watchfulness and prayer will safeguard us from it.



Nor is it easy to say how low a real child of God may fall, nor how deeply he may sink into the mire, once he allows the lusts of the flesh their free play.  Sin is insatiable: it is never satisfied.  Its nature is to drag us lower and lower, getting more and more daring in its opposition to God: and but for His recovering grace it would carry us down to hell itself.  Look at Israel: unbelieving at the Red Sea, murmuring in the wilderness, setting up the idolatrous calf at Sinai.  Look at the course of Christendom as outlined in Revelation 2 and 3: beginning by leaving her first love, ending by becoming so mixed up with the world that Christ threatened to spue her out of His mouth.  Thus it was with David: from laying on his bed to allowing his eyes to wander, from gazing on Bath-sheba to committing adultery with her, from adultery to murder, and then sinking into such spiritual deadness that for a whole year he remained impenitent, till an express messenger from God was needed to arouse him from his torpor.



And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child’ (2 Sam. 11: 5).  Sooner or later the man or the woman who deliberately defies God and tramples His laws underfoot finds from painful experience that the wav of transgressors is hard’ (Prov. 13: 15).  It is true that the final punishment of the wicked is in the next world, and it is true that for years some daring rebels appear to mock God with impunity; nevertheless, His government is such that, even in this life, they are usually made to reap as they have sown.  The pleasures of sin are but For a season’ (Heb. 11: 25), and a very brief one at that: nevertheless at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder’ (Prov. 23: 32).  Make no mistake on that point, dear reader: Be sure your sins will find you out’ (Num. 32: 23).  It did so with David and Bath-sheba, for now the day of reckoning had to be faced.



The penalty for adultery was death: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death’ (Lev. 20: 10).  Bath-sheba now had good cause to fear the righteous wrath of her husband, and the enforcing of the dread sentence of the law.  David, too, was faced with serious trouble: the one with whom he had had illicit intercourse was pregnant, and her own husband had been away from home for some time.  The hidden works of darkness must soon be forced into the light for when Uriah returned the unfaithfulness of his wife would he discovered.  This would give him the right to have her stoned, and though David, by virtue of his high position as king, might escape a similar fate, yet it was likely that his guilt would be proclaimed abroad and a general revolt be stirred up against him.  But sad as was the predicament in which David now found himself, still sadder was the measure he resorted to in seeking to extricate himself.



Before taking up the doleful details in the inspired narrative, let us first seek to obtain a general idea of what follows - asking the reader to go over 2 Samuel 11: 6-21 ere continuing with our comments.  There was no thirsting for Uriah’s blood on the part of David: it was only after all his carnal efforts had failed to use Uriah in covering his own sin, that the king resorted to extreme measures.  Another before us has pointed out the awful parallel which here obtains between David and Pilate.  The Roman governor thirsted not for the blood of the Saviour, rather did he resort to one expedient after another so as to preserve His life; and only after those had failed, did he give his official sanction to the crucifying of the Lord Jesus.  Alas that the sweet Psalmist of Israel should here find himself in the same class with Pilate, but the flesh in the believer is no different from the flesh in the unbeliever, and when allowed its way it issues in the same works in both.



But the analogy between David and Pilate is even closer.  What was it that caused David to sacrifice Uriah in order to shield himself?  It was his love of the world, his determination to preserve his place and reputation among men at all costs.  Love of his fair name in the world, resolved that under no circumstances would he be branded as an adulterer, so whatever stood in the way must be removed.  He contrived various expedients to preserve his character, but these were baffled; so just as the lust of the eye led him to adultery with Bath-sheba, now the pride of life goaded him to the murder of her husband.  And was it not the same with Pilate? ”*



                                                         - Quoted form ‘The Life of David’ by A. W. PINK



*       *       *









* The following is a selection only of the many reports published in the ‘Belfast Telegraph.








* She went along with murder plan because she was scared of lover Howell, court told.


* She ‘let dentist into her home to poison husband.’


* Killer wanted to marry Stewart and start a new life.


* Double killings were a ‘joint plan for selfish ends.’




Dentist’s proposal came four years after the outrage





Killer dentist Colin Howell asked his ex-lover Hazel Stewart to marry him and start a new life in Scotland after he had murdered her husband and his wife.


Coleraine Crown Court heart yesterday that Howell and Stewart continued their affair for five years after the murders.


Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC said that Howell and Stewart resumed a sexual relationship just weeks after the funerals of their partners.


He said the relationship was conducted in secret for a while, but by 1994 he was taking his children over to her house and they had gone on holidays together to Newcastle, Co. Down, and the Lake District in England.


The court was told that Howell had gone to Scotland on holiday and saw two dental practices for sale.  He proposed to Stewart in 1995 and suggested that they resettle in Scotland but she said no.


Their relationship ended the following year when she began dating another man who she had met in the gym.


The court also heard that Stewart became pregnant to Howell the year before the murders.  They both travelled to London where she had an abortion.


When Stewart ended the relationship, the court was told that Howell became angry.


Stewart told police: “He prowled the back of the house, he drove up and down, he wouldn’t let me go, I was scared.  He was angry.”


Stewart later married her second husband, retired police officer David Stewart.


Howell married his second wife Kyle.  She has since filed for divorce.



Officer who found bodies ‘doubted it was suicide pact






An off-duty detective who discovered the bodies of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan in a fume-filled garage raised concerns with investigating officers that their deaths were not suicide.


David Green told Coleraine Court he had suspicions that dentist Colin Howell, who 18 years later confessed to their murders, may have been involved and had alerted three detectives.


I believe something had happened which was not good and obviously the suspicion fell on Mr Howell.” He said.


But despite his reservations, the original police investigation in 1991 concluded that the pair had taken their own lives in a bizarre suicide pact.


The finding was based in part on the evidence of Howell and his lover Hazel Stewart, Mr Buchanan’s wife, who is now on trial for the double murder.


They told detectives they believed their spouses killed themselves because they could not come to terms with their affair - when in actual fact they had been murdered.


Mr Green was a member of the same church as the Howells and Buchanans and on the day after their murder, church elder James Flanagan approached him and said Colin Howell was worried because his wife and Mr Buchanan, also a policeman, had gone missing.


Mr Flanagan had gone to check a house in Cartlerock earlier that morning at the dentist’s request but had found nothing.


With Howell having rung him again to ask if he would take another look, the elder asked Mr Green, a then senior detective in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, to accompany him.  This time Mr Green checked the garage of the house, which sat in a row called the Twelve Apostles, and made the grim discovery.


I could actually see blue smoke still in the air, though it looked as if it had been there for a while,” he said.


Mr Buchanan’s lifeless body was slumped in the driver’s seat of a car and Mrs Howell was lying dead in the boot surrounded by family pictures with earphones in her ears.


Mr Green, an experienced detective who at that time had been in the police for seventeen years, said something told him it was not a simple suicide.


Giving evidence in the trial of Stewart, the now retired officer said he was very suspicious about how he found the bodies.


I was just unhappy with the scene and really became suspicious about the whole thing.”


Pressed by a detective lawyer, Mr Green said “he couldn’t put his finger on” exactly what troubled him about the garage.


The detective was stationed in Londonderry, but he told the court he voiced his concerns with three senior detectives from Coleraine who were working on the case.



They met and he outlined plan to murder their partners

she never objected to it






In his confession to police, Howell said he first came up with the idea to murder his wife and Mr Buchanan on May 14, 1991.


He said at that time his wife was distressed over his affair and her father’s death.  Howell said he rang Stewart asking her to meet him the following day, and it was then that he outlined his plot “from start to finish”.


He said she said he was crazy and they wouldn’t get away with it,” said Mr. Murphy.


She never objected to it.”


Howell then claimed to have given Stewart tablets his late father-in-law had been taking in order to drug her husband on the day he planned to kill him.


When they arrived Howell said he initially was unable to contact Stewart, as she was gone out for the day, but she called back later when she said he reminded her about the tablets.  He claimed he told her he would ring her house phone, hanging up immediately so the receiver just made a single clicking noise, when he had killed Lesley.


That night, as his wife lay sleeping on the sofa of their home, Howell laid a hose pipe through the house, placed it beside her mouth and lay a douvet over her head.


She stirred as the poison filled her lungs so Howell held the douvet around her head while she died.


He said she muttered their son Matthew’s name as she desperately gasped for breath.  The couple’s four children were in bed at the time.


Howell said he then placed his wife’s body in the boot of his car and rang Stewart.


When she heard the click she would know Lesley was dead,” Mr Murphy explained to the jury.


Howell said she phoned him straight back.


He said he knew then he had clearance to go over to the house,” said Murphy.


The dentist said he had briefed Stewart on what she needed to do ahead of his arrival.


Her car needed to be out of the garage so he could drive in, to make sure her husband was asleep and had taken the drugs, that the fireplace was clear so she could burn the hosepipe and that clothes were laid out so she could dress her dead husband.


When he arrived, he told police Stewart was panicking but that he didn’t pay her much attention.


Mr Buchanan was in the bedroom asleep when Howell ran the hose pipe through the house and laid it on his pillow.


He awoke and Howell ran in to tackle him.


They both slid off the bed during a struggle and Howell finally held him down and forced the pipe into the corner of his mouth.


When he was dead, the dentist said he dressed the policeman in the Jeans, shirt, jumper, socks and shoes that Stewart had laid out in the spare room.


He then placed the bodies in the boot of the car with a bicycle over them, drove them to Castlerock and staged the suicide scene.  When he finally returned home he said he phoned Stewart to make sure she had cleaned the house, burnt the pipe, and to tell her he had suffered a bruise to his head during the struggle.


Mr Murphy said Howell told Stewart: “You have to say when you are interviewed by police that Trevor came to my house and we had a struggle and Lesley came to your house in the early hours of the morning and you heard them talking.”


The QC added: “Both of them ultimately gave the same version of events to police.”


Howell said he resumed a sexual relationship with Stewart weeks after the funerals of their spouses and continued it for five years, at first secretly, but by 1994 he said he was taking his children round to her house and that they had gone on holidays to Newcastle, Co. Down, and the Lake District in England.


He said he asked her to marry him in 1995 and that he had gone to view two dentistry practices in Scotland in the hope of starting a new life with Stewart and their families.


She didn’t want that,” said Murphy.


Their relationship ended in 1996 when Stewart began seeing another man, Trevor McAuley.  She later married her second husband, retired police officer David Stewart.  On the same day that Howell confessed to the police, officers went to Stewart’s home.



I did not want to hear it.  I put my hands over my ears



Mr Murphy said that when she was cautioned she replied: “What?  What has been said?


Stewart was then taken to Coleraine police station where she was interviewed over a number of days and gave different versions of what happened.


Initially she said she did not know what Howell had planned, that she was “weak and vunerable” and was scared for her life, as he [was] controlling.  She said she felt at times that she was in love with Howell.  She said that Howell would never have left Lesley and that one day he said there was a way for them to be together, and that was to kill her husband and his wife.


She allegedly told investigating officers: “Months or weeks before in the car he said something about how this is the only way.  I didn’t want to discuss it, he had it fixed in his own mind.


When he came round with the car maybe I should have done something, I was scared for the children.”


The court heard that on the night of the murder she stood in the bedroom and at one stage looked out and saw her husband lying in the corridor in his boxer shorts.  She said she did not want to see him, and she was scared the children would come out of their room.


She said her mistake was getting involved with Howell.


After Howell arrived and ran the hose pipe through the house, she said she heard a struggle in her husband’s bedroom.


She said: “I didn’t want to hear it, I put my hands over my ears, I didn’t want to hear it, I was so scared.”


Stewart told police that after Howell had removed her husband’s body she opened the windows to let the fumes out, vacuumed the carpet and washed and changed the bed sheets.


Asked by police if she had got rid of evidence, she said: “I suppose you could put it like that, I never thought of it like that, I just needed to get the room tidied up.”


She then got sticks and coal and lit a fire to burn the hose pipe, just as Howell had instructed her to do.


In her later interviews she admitted that she had encouraged her husband to take a temazepam tablet that Howell had given her, telling her to crunch it up in his food.


She said Howell wanted her to drug her husband.  He had to have something in him to relax a bit.  If Trevor hadn’t taken it he (Howell) couldn’t have gone on with it.”


Stewart said she had lied to protect herself, as well as her two children.


When the police put it to her that she knew Trevor was going to be killed that night, she replied: “Yes.”



I wanted the whole thing stopped and I didn’t stop it



She also allegedly told police: “I wasn’t in good form that day.  I knew something would happen.  I wanted the whole thing stopped and I didn’t stop it.”


Mr Murphy said that during police interview detectives put it to her that money was never a motivation, but that the motive was for her and Howell “to be alone and to be together”, to which she allegedly replied: “Yes.”


Mr Murphy told the court that there was no doubt Stewart had engaged in a joint enterprise to kill Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan.


The purpose was to rid them of their partners so they could be together.” He said.


Hazel Stewart knew what was going to happen.”


Mr Murphy said Stewart knew Mrs Howell was about to be killed and did nothing to stop it, and that she facilitated the murder of her own husband.


She did that to facilitate the plan.”


He added: “She led him in and she saw what he was doing, she prepared clothes to be put on her dead husband.


She stood feet away knowing her husband was struggling for his last breaths.  She showed total and utter callous disregard for her husband and endorsed and encouraged exactly what Colin Howell was doing.”


+       +       +







* Killer passed on note for his lover on the day of wife’s funeral


* He tried to electrocute wife as she lay in bath, court told


* Pals tell court they suspected double deaths were not suicide


* Detective denies concerns of foul play were raised



Howell’s letter to lover sent on day of wife’s funeral






Killer dentist Colin Howell asked a fellow church member to forward a love letter to Hazel Stewart on the day of his wife’s funeral, a court has heard.


In the letter Howell said he had taken a mother from her children, but that he believed “God will provide for them.”


He also pleaded with Stewart to continue the relationship after they both had time to grieve over the deaths of their partners.


Stewart (47) denies murdering her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley in May 1991.  Their bodies were found in a fume-filled car in Castlerock in an apparent suicide pact.


Her former lover Howell (51) has already pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed for 21 years.


At Coleraine Crown Court yesterday, Derek McAuley, an acquaintance of Howell’s and fellow member of Coleraine Baptist Church, said that on the day of the funerals the dentist gave him a letter in a sealed envelope and asked him to deliver it to Stewart.


Mr McAuley said before the letter was passed to Stewart, he steamed the envelope open, photocopied its contents and showed it to John Hansford, the pastor at Coleraine Baptist Church.


In the six-page letter, read to the court, Howell asked Stewart if it is true that she believes it is best that they never get together again.


If it is true, ring me and say it’s true.  Don’t allow me to have hope if there is none, you will kill me,” he wrote.


I plead with you, if with your mind you’re saying no and you must destroy our future, I will not try to change your mind no matter how lonely I get.


The pastor told me he will do everything in his power to stop us getting together.


He is a very clever man and capable of convincing you our marriage would be a disaster.”


Howell then mentioned Stewart’s two children, Lisa and Andrew.


I heard Lisa twice say she did not like me,” he added.


That is hard, Trevor is gone so when I come back on the scene in a year’s time she will be in need of a father figure and the threat I used to be will be replaced by need.


I will talk to them about Trevor.


I will allow Andrew to cut the grass and do the manly things his father did.


They will be so loved by me that the difficulties, which there will be, will be overcome and sorted out.”


He added that they both must take time to grieve for their dead partners as he thinks they had “underestimated this response in our hearts”.


During this time we must not see or talk to each other,” he wrote.


When we miss each other we must look at their things and photographs and concentrate on our grief.  I miss Lesley and am sorry for all the sins I have done to her.  I must grieve for that.


Once it is gone we can give ourselves to each other.”


Howell said that if enough time passed and her family saw how much he cared for her and loved her, then they would accept them both.


“I will wait for you if you are convinced that this is correct,” he said.


Howell added: “You will lose many friends but we can walk down the street together proud of each other.  We won’t lose all our friends if we take our time.  I have taken a mother from her children.


But God will provide for them.


I hope and pray it will be you.  Love Colin.”



I had a number of suspicions about the deaths …

I informed the police about these





Hazel Stuart bit her lip as one of Lesley Howell’s dearest friends took to the witness box.  Margaret Topping appeared nervous as she was called by Crown Prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC to give her evidence.


She did not look towards Stewart, who watched her carefully from the dock.


Mrs Topping told the jury that she and Lesley became good friends when the Howells first arrived in the north coast in the early 1980s and joined Coleraine Baptist Church, where she and her husband were members.


In 1990 Mrs Howell confided in Mrs Topping that her husband was having an affair with Stewart, who was married to Trevor Buchanan at the time.


Lesley told me about it.  She was very sad, embarrassed and hurt and kept asking why she was not number one?  At times she was distraught.  Her family and children were very important to her and she loved Colin.  On one occasion she said when this is over, and I can trust Colin again, I want to renew our vows and make a fresh start’,” Mrs Topping said.


The affair was exposed in September 1990 and Howell and Stewart both claimed that it had ended.  Mrs Topping said, however, that Lesley discovered that after this Howell and Stewart had gone to Bangor, Co Down, for a weekend together.


Mrs Topping said that during a visit to his house Howell took her to one side to say how sorry he was about the affair and that it would never happen again.


He was very remorseful and apologetic to me.  He said he couldn’t help it,” she said.  On hearing that Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan had been found dead, Mrs Topping said she had a number of suspicions about their deaths. She said her suspicions were aroused because of a number of incidents that Lesley had confided in her about, in particular one, not long before her murder, where Howell had almost electrocuted her in the bath.


Before her death she told me that it was so awful that he couldn’t possibly have meant it.”


Mrs Topping said that after Mrs Howell’s father had died she told her that any money he had left was for her and the children, not Howell.  She said that Howell’s business was in trouble and she was unable to get any money out of the bank machine because they had no money.


On another occasion, Mrs Howell told her friend that Howell. was giving her some tablets.  Apparently the mother-of-four’s brother, Christopher Clarke, had, confronted Howell about administering her with the drugs.


These things aroused my suspicion.  After the death I told police about the incidents and the money.


I would like to say what a fine friend she was.  I was very fond of her.  She was generous, kind and a devoted mother, and she was a great loss.”



I thought it was suspicious, but I couldn’t work out how it was done



Mrs Topping’s husband, Dr Alan Topping, also told the court that he too had his suspicions about the deaths of Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell.


I do not think everyone did believe it was a suicide;” said Dr Topping.


He told the court that a few days after the death he met with police officer David Green, who was also a church member, and told him he was suspicious.


David Green and myself discussed this in our house.  I thought it was suspicious but I couldn’t work out how it might have been done.  I thought maybe some sedation was given, that some substance may have been injected.  I thought a post-mortem would show puncture wounds, but it didn’t.”


Mr Buchanan was friendly with Dr Topping and three nights before he was murdered he called to the Toppings’ home to watch a football match.


Trevor was a very pleasant man, very open and good company. He was good to be with.  On Wednesday, May 15, 1991, Trevor called to the house to watch a football game.  He told me that Hazel was considering the marriage and whether or not it should progress.  The impression given was that she wanted time out to consider it.  Trevor stayed over that night.  He was very concerned and upset.  He wanted the marriage to continue.  He wasn’t depressed and did not express any intent to harm himself,” said Dr Topping.


However, retired RUC Detective Inspector Jack Hutchinson, who was the senior investigating officer in the case at the time, insisted that nobody had raised any concerns about the deaths with him.


He said as part of his investigations he visited the scene where the bodies were discovered and took statements from Howell and Stewart.


We were seeking an explanation for two untimely deaths.


I have no recollection of any concerns.  People felt bad but nobody raised any concerns.  Nobody made any categoric insinuations of criminal complicity in this matter,” he told the jury.


Mr Hutchinson also said that he did not inquire into Howell’s financial background.  The morning after the double murders, Howell contacted a fellow church member, Derek McAuley, who lived close to the Buchanans and was a good friend of Trevor’s.


Mr McAuley said Howell phoned him at around 9am and asked him to come over because Lesley and Trevor “had gone off in the middle of the night and had not returned”.


He appeared uneasy, concerned and anxious,” said Mr McAuley.


Howell asked him to go to his late father-in-law’s home in Castlerock as he thought that his wife and Trevor might be there.


Mr McAuley went to the house and searched inside but did not see anything.  He then looked through the garage window and saw the car with the door open, but did not see any bodies.


Later that day another member of the church found the bodies.


A few days later, at Howell’s wife’s funeral, Howell handed Mr McAuley a letter in a sealed envelope and asked him to pass it on to Stewart.


Mr McAuley said he steamed the letter open because he felt it was wrong that Howell was still pursuing Stewart.  He then photocopied the letter and showed it to John Hansford, the pastor at Coleraine Baptist Church who was offering Howell and counselling.


There was a bush in the courtroom as the contents of the love letter were read out.


In the letter Howell begged Stewart not to destroy their future together.  I have taken a mother from her children, but God will provide another for them.  I only hope and pray it will be you;” he wrote.


In the letter he also said: “Do not allow me to have hope when there is none.”


He claimed the pastor who was counselling them both “had a clever mind and would do everything in his power to stop them getting together.”  He said the pastor believed that if they married, the marriage would be a disaster.


He also said: “If in your heart you really decide it is over for us, then you must say it.”


He told Stewart that he could become a father figure to her children and that he would teach her son Andrew “manly things”.


Members of Mr Buchanan’s family began to weep as they listened to evidence from one of his colleagues, Lesley Clyde, who was also a police constable in Coleraine at the time.



He told me that he loved Hazel and wanted his marriage to work




Mr Clyde told the court that Mr Buchanan had loved his wife and his children and had desperately wanted to make his marriage work.


He told me that he loved Hazel and his two children and wanted his marriage to work.


He loved his family very much.


He was assured that the affair was over but he suspected it was still ongoing and found it very difficult to cope with. He emphasised time and time again that he loved Hazel and his children very much.


He belonged to the Baptist Church and his Christian beliefs were that once together, always together.


He did not believe in separation or divorce and was having difficulty coping with that.


He felt his wife was trying to give the affair up but Colin Howell was pressurising her.  That was what he wanted to believe as well,” said Mr Clyde.




Detective insists no-one questioned suicide verdict





The detective in charge of the investigation into the deaths of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell has insisted that nobody raised concerns with him over the suicide verdict.


Jack Hutchinson, who was a detective Inspector in the RUC when the bodies were found in a car filled with fumes in May, 1991, told Coleraine Crown Court yesterday that no-one suggested that the father-of-two and mother-of-four may have been killed.


I have no recollection of any concerns.  People felt bad but nobody raised any concerns.  Nobody made any categoric insinuations of criminal complicity in this matter,” said Mr Hutchinson.


He also told the court that he had not made any inquiries into Colin Howell’s financial background.


It was claimed earlier that Howell’s wife Lesley had confided to a friend that his business was struggling financially and that she was going to make sure he did not receive any money that her father had left her in his will.


On Tuesday, however, David Green, an off-duty detective from another police district, who discovered the bodies, told the trial he had voiced his suspicion to Mr Hutchinson and two other officers.


I was very unhappy having visited the scene,” he said.  “I was just unhappy with the scene and really became suspicious about the whole thing.


He added: “I believed something had happened which was not good, and obviously the suspicion fell on Mr. Howell.


A post-mortem investigation carried out after the bodies were discovered found that Mr Buchanan and Mre Howell had died from monoxide poisoning.


An inquest into the deaths concluded that they had died in a suicide pact because they were unable to cope with Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart’s affair.


Eighteen years later, however, the investigation was reopened after Howell confessed to police that he had murdered his wife Lesley and Stewart’s husband Trevor.


He said he used a pipe attached to his car exhaust to poison his wife as she slept on the sofa and murdered Trevor using the same method as he slept in bed.


He then staged a suicide scene by leaving the bodies in a fume-filled car in a garage in Castlerock.


Earlier this week the court heard that his former lover Stewart told police during an interview that she allowed Howell into her house to kill her husband.


The mother-of-two also allegedly admitted cutting up and burning the hose pipe that was used to poison her husband and Mrs Howell.


Stewart allegedly told police that she had encouraged her husband to take a temazepam tablet before Howell arrived to kill him as they lay in bed.


After the murder she then changed the bedsheets and vacuumed the bedroom carpet.




Howell almost electrocuted his wife





Colin Howell almost electrocuted his wife Lesley as she relaxed in the bath a short time before he murdered her, it was revealed.


Lesley’s close friend Margaret Topping told Coleraine Court yesterday that the mother-of-four had mentioned the incident after confiding in her that Howell was having an affair with playschool assistant Hazel Stewart.


Mrs Topping, who met Lesley through Coleraine Baptist Church where they were both members, said her friend told her that Howell dropped an electrical cable into the bath water and she suffered an electric shock, but she was all right.


She told me almost laughing.  She said it was so awful he could not have meant it.  But she told me, so that I would know,” she said.


The incident happened after Mrs Howell had given birth to her fourth child Jonathan, who was just four months old when she was killed.


The 31-year-old confided to Mrs Topping of Howell’s affair with Hazel Stewart.


Mrs Topping said that she had been suspicious after Mrs Howell’s body was discovered in a car alongside the body of Stewart’s husband Trevor Buchanan in an apparent suicide pact.


She told the court that Mrs Howell had also confided in her that Howell had been administering drugs to her.


Mrs Howell also insisted that he would not be getting any money she had inherited from her father’s will because she feared his dental practice was in financial difficulties.  She said she had been unable to get any money out of the bank because there was no money there.


These things made me suspicious.  After the deaths I told police about the incidents and the money,” said Mrs Topping.


Her husband, Dr Alan Topping, told the court that not everyone believed Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan had committed suicide.


He said he raised his concerns with police officer and church member David Green, who had discovered the bodies in a car at the back of Mrs Howell’s father’s house in May 1991.


A few days after the deaths I met David Green and told him I was suspicious about the deaths.  David Green and myself discussed this in our house,” said Dr Topping.


On Mat 15, a few days before the deaths, Constable Buchanan came to his house to watch a football match, Dr. Topping said.


He said that night Mr Buchanan told him that Hazel “was considering the marriage and whether or not it should progress.”


Dr Topping added: “the impression given was that she wanted time out to consider it.  Trevor stayed over that night.  He was very concerned and upset.  He wanted the marriage to continue. 


He wasn’t depressed and did not express any intent to harm himself.”



+       +       +









Killer Howell ‘knocked his lover out before sex


Court told dentist put accused to sleep with jab prior to intercourse






Killer dentist Colin Howell regularly injected his former lover with a sedative before he had sex with her, it was revealed in court yesterday.


On the third day of Hazel Stewart’s trial, Coleraine Crown Court heart how Howell would come round to her house and inject her with something so he could “enjoy sexual gratification with her” without her feeling “guilt”.


The court also heard how on one occasion Howell “almost overdid it”, and feared she would not wake up.


Mrs Stewart (47) is accused of killing her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley, and staging it to look like suicide.


Giving evidence, Stewart’s former boyfriend Trevor McAuley said she told him that during her relationship with Howell he would inject her using a “floppy needle”.


She would pass out and she wouldn’t know anything about it until the next morning when she woke up,” he said.


I remember her saying what a nice feeling it was when she drifted off.


The purpose of it was so that he could enjoy sexual gratification with her without her feeling the guilt of it, while he was able to have pleasure.


He also said: “One occasion he almost overdid it.  He gave her too much and I think he was quite concerned that he wasn’t going to be able to get her round again”.


During the evidence Mr McAuley - who had a seven-year relationship with Mrs Stewart between 1996 and 2004 - described how Howell refused to accept his affair with Stewart was over.


The disgraced dentist, now serving 21 years for the murder of his wife and Mr Buchanan, would sit outside her house and drive off “at great speed” when Mr McAuley left, telephoned the house on several occasions, and was even discovered standing at the bottom of the garden staring into the house.


When Mr McAuley said he was going to confront Howell about his behaviour, Stewart told him “not to approach him because I had no idea what he was capable of”.


He also said Howell had offered to pay him to end the relationship with Stewart.


Other alarming details about the pair emerged throughout the day, including how they began their affair while bathing their children after a day at the beach.


With Lesley Howell pregnant, she went to bed while Stewart and Howell agreed they would bath the children.


Stewart later admitted to the pastor of the Coleraine Baptist Church during marriage counselling sessions that this was when the affair started.


Throughout the sessions, which each of the couples attended separately, Pastor John Hansford said he “found it difficult to get her to see her personal responsibility and involvement in the adulterous relationship.


In some way I felt it was quite difficult in that Howell was not particularly forthcoming and open,” he said.  I felt that when I spoke to her about acknowledging the fact that wrong had been committed, that she always seemed to step back from that.”


He said Stewart was unhappy with her marriage to Mr Buchanan, who she felt to be unexciting and lacking in ambition, particularly with regards to his job as a police constable.


I sensed at the time that perhaps there was some sense of transition in her life from her childhood, from her upbringing, from her schooling, to a marriage to Trevor that hadn’t brought all that she had anticipated,” he told the court.


I remember her also saying on one occasion that she felt Trevor was not ambitious and she felt that was a negative quality, that he was quite comfortable with being a constable.”


Going into more detail, he said: “Some of the things she mentioned was that she had found Trevor to be a very ordinary guy, she reflected on her own childhood and upbringing which she felt at the time had been fairly restrictive, and that she had wished that Trevor had been a little bit more of an exciting husband.


I said to her that Trevor was a really good guy.


I had seen him travelling around when he was on duty, talking to members of the public animatedly, doing what in my opinion was a first rate job as a police constable.


I can remember saying to Hazel he may not be the most exciting man you could have married, but the qualities of commitment and faithfulness that he exhibited were not to be despised, and were in fact qualities to be cherished.”




A hug for the man adulterer would murder





Convicted killer Colin Howell apologised and embraced the husband of the woman he was having an affair with just weeks before he killed him, it was revealed in court yesterday.


The disgraced dentist later “bragged” about how clever he was to fool the police.


Coleraine Crown Court heard that both couples volunteered to undergo marriage guidance counselling from their pastor, John Hansford.


The sessions had been progressing so well, the pastor of the church believed, it was time Howell and Trevor Buchanan met face to face.


Giving his evidence, Mr Hansford described how Howell said he wanted to express his “sincere apologies” to Mr Buchanan and how he facilitated the meeting.  I felt that the counselling was making some discernable progress,” he said.


All four had agreed upon counselling with the pastor and to keep the affair as quiet as possible.


They attended counselling as couples and individually, but the four had not met together.


After about four months Mr Hansford said he felt they had “reached a point where Colin and Trevor could meet together and in special circumstances could talk to each other”.


About six weeks before Mr. Buchanan was found dead alongside Howell’s wife, the pastor arranged a meeting.


The whole meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, in the first five minutes I said some introductory words, and Colin said he was prepared to seek Trevor’s forgiveness and apologise with him, I was witness to that,” he said.


Then they embraced each other and I said ‘there are private things I’m sure you want to say to each other’, and I left.”


But the court heard how Howell and Mrs Stewart were still carrying on their affair.


Giving evidence to the court.  Mrs Howell’s brother Christopher Clarke yesterday described how when he was staying at the Howell’s house after his father Henry had died, he had noticed cars had been moved in the middle of the night and suspected the affair was still going on.


He also told how Howell had admitted to him he had been drugging his wife.


Having a couple of drinks in the house Mr Clarke said he was “surprised as to how quickly she (Lesley) had become very drunk”.


At that point he (Howell) volunteered the information that he had given her a sleeping tablet,” he said.  I remonstrated with him about her combining sedatives with alcohol”.


Howell told him he had given it to her because she was so upset over her father’s death.


This was also something that Mrs Howell had told Pastor Hansford, that “Colin was giving her medicine to help her sleep”.


Howell later inherited his wife’s half of her father’s estate, worth around £14,000.  He also inherited £212,466 which his wife Lesley held in a bank account.


After this had been cleared Mr Howell repaid a £10,000 loan to his friend, Dr Marshall Reilly.




Barely a flicker in the dock as most private of details were made public


By Patrice Dougan



Sitting in the dark, Hazel Stewart remained stony-faced throughout the third day of her trial for the murder of her first husband and her former lover’s wife.


Even through evidence outlining intimate details of her relationship with Howell - including how he injected her with drugs before they had sex - she sat with her eyes to the floor, brow slightly furrowed, giving away no emotion.


It was the feature identified in some of the evidence given - the court heard how she had been emotionless when told of her husband Trevor Buchanan’s death.


Elizabeth Hansford, wife of Pastor John from Coleraine Baptist Church, described to the court how she broke the news of Mr Buchanan and Lesley Howell’s deaths to Stewart.


Mr and Mrs Hansford had received a telephone call on Sunday May 19, 1991 after morning service informing them that the bodies of two of their congregation had been found in what looked like an apparent suicide pact.  The pair agreed that Mr. Hansford would break the news to Collin Howell and his wife would inform Hazel Stewart (then Buchanan).


Finding Stewart was not at home, she inquired of the children where she was.  They directed her to a neighbour’s house, the home of other members of the congregation, Hilary and Derek McAuley.


I told them about the bodies being found in the car and it looked like suicide.” She said.


I remember the look of shock on their faces, I remember them standing completely still, an almost cartoon-like version of shock - their jaws dropped open and silent.


I went into the lounge on my own, Hazel was there.  I sat down beside her on the sofa and broke the news to her that Trevor’s body had been found in a car in Castlerock, along with Lesley.


What struck me at the time, and has remained with me, was the contrast in her reaction with Hilary and Derek.  There was no shocked expression, she didn’t seem to give any emotional response at all.  She seemed emotionless.


Immediately I finished telling her the deaths she put her hands over her face and she kept them there for a considerable time.”


Mrs Hansford also gave evidence about how she felt Mr Howell’s reaction to the death of his wife had been strange.


Before the funeral she had visited Howell in his home.


I remember him saying that he had gone out to play some sport,” she said.  And he felt hungry and went down to the local chippy to get some fish and chips.  It seemed to me an unusual thing for a man to do when his wife had just died.


There’s nothing wrong with playing sport and eating fish and chips, but it just seemed somewhat callous.”  She also told the court how, during his wife’s funeral, Howell had taken one of his children to the front of the church and “touched the coffin and said ‘mummy’s in there’”.


Coleraine Crown Court heard how during her affair with Howell, before her husband’s death, Stewart had become pregnant and because she “wasn’t sure whose it was” Howell arranged and paid for her to have an abortion in a London clinic.


Stewart’s former boyfriend, Trevor McAuley, described how Stewart was “extremely upset” when she told him about the termination after Howell threatened to tell him “something that would jeopardise our relationship”.


It also came to light that Howell had organised three abortions for his first wife Lesley Howell before they were married.


During his relationship with Stewart, Trevor McAuley said they had discussed her dead husband on a few occasions, but he said: “She actually appreciated that I didn’t pry into that.”


He described one occasion when the couple were out for a walk and she asked him if he believed Mr Buchanan would be in Heaven or Hell because he had taken his own life.


I answered her that I wasn’t a judge to decide whether someone went to Heaven or Hell, all I knew was the Bible says that no one has a right to take a life other than God,” he said.


Hazel’s answer was that no matter what I said, she believed that Trevor was in Heaven.”



+       +       +










The Time had come for me to tell the truth





Not a murmur was heard in the court room as Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC got to his feet and declared: “I propose to call Colin David Howell.”


The tense silence was broken by the shuffling of feet and the rattle of a door handle before the killer dentist appeared unceremoniously in the room.


Hazel Stewart seemed to shrink into the corner of the dock and did not look towards her former lover as he walked just inches away from her through the dock and across the courtroom to the witness stand.


Howell, wearing his wedding ring, sat with his back to Stewart until handed the Bible to take his oath and ordered to face the jury.  Speaking softly, Howell (51) told the court that he had finally decided to confess to his crimes, which were committed almost two decades ago, because “the time had come when the truth had to be told”.


I believed there were still scars that needed to be put right and I wanted to tell the truth,” he said.


For almost five hours in the witness stand Howell spoke coolly about his affair with Stewart, the events running up to the murders, his execution of the murders and his confession.


The mother-of-two watched from the dock as he described how their affair began.  He said he was unhappy within his marriage, that his wife Lesley was “very astute and intelligent” and he often felt “secondary to her”.


That made me more vunerable to seeing someone who approved of me,” he said.


He met Steward while leaving his daughter at the playschool where she was a child care assistant.  They became friendly when they both took their children swimming as part of a group organised by the church.


She approached me, impressed by how I was doing the front crawl.  She asked me to teach her because she had a problem with breathing.  I would give her some lessons.


One day she had put on moisturiser and her skin was very slippery.  I ran my hand up her tummy.  She didn’t object.  I said to her ‘I’m having illicit thoughts about you’, and she said ‘I’m not so innocent myself’.  I saw this as validity to go ahead with an affair.”


When their affair was exposed both couples entered into marriage counselling organised by Coleraine Baptist Church.  But Howell said he missed Stewart and the affair resumed a few months later.


The cognitive decision to end the affair was done with sincerity, but I hadn’t moved on in my heart.  There was a strong emotional attachment with Hazel,” he said.


Howell said that on May 13, 1991, less that a week before the murders, he came up with the idea to kill his wife and Stewart’s husband Trevor Buchanan.


He said that, after the death of her father and discovering his affair, his wife Lesley was in “a very dark place”.


On May 13 I was in bed with Lesley.  She had been grieving very heavily.  It was an extremely dark, dark grief.  About 3am she sat up and she said - its as if she had a premonition - ‘this is going to be over soon.  I’m going to go to Heaven’.  I heard a voice say ‘I can help you’.  Then I had a revelation of the plan that was later enacted out.”


Howell said he arranged to meet Stewart the next day to share his plan with her and ask for her assistance.


Her first reaction was ‘we’ll be caught’.  She was afraid of being caught.


He added that Stewart “didn’t object to the principle” of killing Mr Buchanan and Lesley.


He said that he gave her tablets to make sure Mr Buchanan fell asleep.  When she put the tablets in her handbag he said he “felt it was the moment when the plan was agreed”.





Chilling testimony of a callous murderer



Dentist claims lover Stewartwas willing accomplice who

had no objections over plot to kill their partners






Killer dentist Colin Howell has told a court that his former lover Hazel Stewart did not object to his plan to kill her husband and his wife so they could be together.


Taking the stand to give evidence against Stewart, Howell said that he needed her help to make sure that his plan to murder their partners would work.


The 51-year-old said he came up with the plot as he lay in bed with his wife on May 13, 1991, just days before the murders.


Stewart (47) denies murdering her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley in May 1991.  Their bodies were discovered in a fume-filled car in Castlerock in an apparent suicide pact.


Howell has already pleaded guilty to the murders and was jailed for 21 years.


The killer told Coleraine Court that the day after he decided to murder the pair he asked Stewart to meet him so he could share his “solution” with her.


Her first reaction was ‘we’ll be caught’.  She was afraid of being caught.  She said if she was caught she would slit her wrists.


There had never been any talk before about killing Lesley and Trevor.  I suspect she believed I had a plan to run away together.  I wouldn’t have left Lesley because of the children,” he said.


Howell added however that Stewart “didn’t object to the principle of killing Trevor and Lesley”.


He said he told Stewart that he needed her to give her husband tablets to fall asleep before the murder.


She took the tablets and put them in her handbag.  When I gave her the tablets she understood the full plan.  I felt it was the moment when the plan was agreed upon,” he said.


The court was told that on the night of the murder Howell saw a tuna sandwich on a counter in Buchanan’s kitchen with bits of blue tablet visible.


I was annoyed that my accomplice hadn’t been careful to crunch them up finely enough.  It was clumsy.”


On the night of the murder, which was the same day as his son’s birthday party, his wife was asleep in their living room.  Howell said he hooked the hose pipe to his car, stretched it into the living room, placed the nozzle by his wife’s mouth and then turned on his car engine.


Once he was sure his wife was dead he opened the windows and then called Stewart to say he had “finished” with his wife.


He then placed her body in the boot of the car, freewheeled the car out of the driveway, then he drove past Coleraine police station to the Buchanan’s home.


He said Stewart opened the garage for him and he stretched the hose into Mr Buchanan’s bedroom where he was sleeping.  Mr Buchanan stirred and during a struggle Howell forced the nozzle into Mr Buchanan’s mouth and he went limp after a few breaths.  He then drove both bodies to his late father’s house in Castlerock where he staged a suicide scene.


Howell said his relationship with Stewart resumed about five or six years later and continued until 1996.


We were trying to make something work which had begun with adultery then murder.  We were trying to make something work that was rotten to the core,” he told the court.


Howell said he proposed to Stewart in 1995 and asked her to start a new life with him and their children in Scotland, but she turned him down.


It changed after that.  It became dark and difficult and challenging.  I was relieved when she said no.  It was a co-dependency linked by a dark secret.  I proposed almost out of duty.  I had killed her husband and left her two children fatherless.  I didn’t feel I could end the relationship.”


He said the relationship continued on and off for another year but that he then discovered that Stewart was having an affair with someone else.


It took about a year before I realised I was being two-timed.  I was thinking to myself ‘I have been such a fool’.  I was angry with myself.  I felt so humiliated.”


Howell said that Stewart called him “in her soft, silky voice” to apologise and asked him to call to her house so they could talk.


I have been accused of not being able to let go.  But as far as I was concerned the relationship ended quite a few months before it had for Hazel,” he said.



He was the centre of attention … and loved it



It was as though Colin Howell was describing a complex dental procedure, not the murders of his wife and his lover’s husband.


Throughout his testimony to the court he used words like “the procedure”, “the process”, “the objective”, when referring to the killings.


He told the court that he would often “sanitise” his conversations with Stewart “to avoid the horror of what we were doing”.


For almost five hours the 51-year-old killer, who looks more slight and speaks more softly than imagined, coolly and methodically recalled to the court how he met his wife, the breakdown of their marriage, his affair with Stewart, how he came up with his murder plot and the execution of the killings.


There were a few brief moments when some emotion broke through.  He appeared to choke back tears when his dead son Matthew was mentioned.


He again faltered briefly when he first began to describe his plan to kill his wife.


I’m sorry.  I did a terrible thing and it’s difficult,” he said, before going into detail of the murders.


Towards the end of the day he showed slight flashes of bitterness - or perhaps anger - when he spoke of how his relationship with Stewart finally ended when he discovered she was cheating on him.


Arrogant, manipulative and in need of admiration are just some of the descriptions of Howell by people who knew him.


The reason he sought out an affair in the first place, he said, was that he felt “secondary” to his wife and liked the attention he got from Stewart.


Yesterday it was clear that this was someone who clearly likes attention and being in control


He would often interrupt the Crown prosecutor if he felt he had not made his point clearly enough.


After being shunned by his church, family and friends, Howell appeared to enjoy having an audience again.


This was the Colin Howell show.  He was the centre of attention and loving it.


+       +       +









Howell ‘trapped in a web woven by lover


Killer admits he was mastermind but that Stewart ‘joined the waltz






Killer dentist Colin Howell has claimed he was trapped in a spider’s web woven by his former lover Hazel Stewart.


Taken to the witness stand to give evidence against his ex-mistress for a second day, Howell insisted that Stewart had seduced him from the start of their affair and that she was a willing participant in the murders of her husband Trevor Buchanan and his wife Lesley Howell.


Flies go into spiders’ webs because they think there is some food for them there and I willingly went after the bait and we got caught together in the trap,” said Howell.


During four hours of evidence he also told the court:


* If forensic tests had been carried out on the body of Buchanan he may have been caught.


* He was the “mastermind” behind the murders but Stewart was happy to “join in the waltz”.


* Stewart entered into a “blood pact” with him when she had an abortion before the murders


* That everyone has the potential to kill.


Stewart (47), from Ballystrone Road, Coleraine, denies murdering her husband and Howell’s wife in May 1991.


Their bodies were discovered in a fume-filled car in Castlerock in an apparent suicide bid.


Howell pleaded guilty to the murders last year and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.


Yesterday at Coleraine Crown Court Howell said he was the mastermind behind the murders.


I knew I was the mastermind.  I had the intelligence to put the plan together.  I am the major person in this plan.


If I had been able to take all the blame I would have, but in the last two years I thought Hazel is not my responsibility,” he said.


He insisted, however, that Stewart was a willing participant in the killings and that, just as he had facilitated her abortion during their affair in 1990, she facilitated the two murders.


Hazel initiated the desire to have it (the abortion) and I was the one with the ability.  It was a joint venture.  Hazel wanted it and I facilitated it.  With the murders, I wanted it and Hazel facilitated it.


We were waltzing in time.  This is the perfect illustration of the harmony we had together.”


All the side-stepping was done together.  I was dragging her around the floor.


I may have been the lead partner in that dance, but she was doing it in perfect harmony and willingly.”


Howell claimed that Stewart seduced him in 1990 and referred to their first sexual encounter when he said she invited him to her home to teach her the guitar.


She was wearing a short denim mini skirt, a sleeveless low cut blouse and perfume and I know I was not there for guitar lessons,” he said.


However, defence lawyer Paul Ramsey QC told him: “You are, and have been the most of your adult life, a sexual predator.”  Howell admitted that he was callous, merciless, devious and evil.


Yes I was.  I believe every human being has the potential to do what I did.  But I did it and it sets me apart from humanity.  All the adjectives put to me so far, I agree.  That’s what I was, but I’m no longer that.


What I did 20 years ago was the pinnacle of being callous and that has been hard to live with.  My conscience became so crushed and all the things I had built around that, including my image, couldn’t cope with that,” he told the court.


He said that he was now ashamed, remorseful and sorrowful for what he did and wanted to help the families of his victims to get closure.


The events of 20 years ago, the impact of that is still alive and affecting people.


I am here because of the victims.  I have set myself up to be a punch bag.


I am here today to give people a chance for their wounds to be closed.  I would not dare to ask for forgiveness.


If anyone chooses to forgive me that is a good thing.  I believe someone doesn’t truly recover from an injury unless they forgive”.


Because of my success and status and wealth, that made me attractive to some families and I got a positive response.”


He denied that he controlled Stewart, who he at times would drug before they had sex.


Mr Ramsey said that Howell had agreed during police interviews in 2009 that Stewart was frightened of him that she was “kind and innocent” and easily led.


Howell said, however, that he had been agreeing with everything police had said, treating officers like church elders.


He said that Stewart had deceived him and that she painted herself as a victim.


It is the thing that draws you to her, she appears to be the victim.  It is like an advert for an orphanage in India.


You want to get your wallet out.  But those adverts have businessmen behind them collecting money from people,” he said.


Howell said he was within hours of opening up to police in 1998 about the murders but that he underwent a “religious conviction” after meeting a girl at a Sunday night church service where he claimed she told him his sins had “been forgiven and forgotten by God.”


He eventually confessed to police in January 2009, saying that he was overwhelmed by guilt.



This was one match the killer dentist was desperate to control



It was like a game of chess.  Colin Howell spend several hours attempting to outwit his adversary, defence barrister Paul Ramsey QC.


This is a man who admits to enjoying competition and when he plays a sport he plays to win.


In life you do not like to be a loser,” Mr Ramsey said to him.


I don’t think anyone would,” Howell replied.


And this was one match that the killer dentist appeared desperate to be in control of.


When he was pronounced in court yesterday morning he seemed more self-assured as he walked to the witness stand.


I’m prepared for what is coming today,” he told Mr Ramsey.


As he became more comfortable, the 51-year-old, who admitted he did not like when someone could match him intellectually, seemed to be tussling to be the barrister’s equal.


While he remained respectful, he refused to be submissive and was not reticent when he did not like the defence barrister’s line of questioning.


I disagree with what is being inferred by you” and “you are misinterpreting what I said,” he declared on more than one occasion.


When asked if he was a controlling person he spoke at length about different types of control before adding: “It would be helpful if you could identify which control you mean.”


He also said to Mr Ramsey: “I’m maybe straying into something you don’t understand” when telling the jury of his “powerful bond” with Stewart.


Mr Ramsey used a number of adjectives to describe Howell - outgoing, ambitious, a leader, confident, competitive, callous, manipulative, merciless, evil.


All the adjectives put to me so far, I agree.  That’s what I was, but I’m no longer like that,” Howell said.


When asked if he could be described as a ladies’ man he added: “Because of my success and status and wealth, that made me attractive to some females and I got a positive response.”


On several occasions he referred to his intelligence.


I’m totally ashamed I misused my ability of ingenuity and intelligence in the wrong way,” he added.


When talking about Stewart, he said: “If she went and did her GCSE’s and A Levels she wouldn’t do as well as me.”


He also referred to himself as the “mastermind” behind the murder plan.


I knew I was the mastermind.  I had the intelligence to put the plan together.  I am the major person in this plan,” he told the jury.


Howell had clearly given deep thought to his testimony, often using colourful language to describe his relationship with Stewart.


Three times, while describing his relationship with the 47-year-old and their roles in the murders he spoke of how he and Stewart had “waltzed in perfect harmony.


We were waltzing together in time.  I may have been the lead partner in the waltz but she was doing it in perfect harmony,” he said.


He also referred to a “contract in blood” between him and Stewart when she had an abortion and often referred to their “powerful bond” which could only be broken through confession and seeking forgiveness.


Howell insisted that he had not controlled Stewart and said that she was a willing accomplice to the murders of her husband and his wife.


He denied he was psychotic, an analysis made by a psychiatrist who assessed him before his sentencing last year after he pleaded guilty to the murders.


However, some of his self-observations appear to suggest that he views himself as being beyond human.


I believe every human being has the potential to do what I did.  But I did it and it sets me apart from humanity,” he told the court.


He also described himself to the psychiatrist as a “small god who needed to be worshipped by women” - although he told the court that what he said was misunderstood.


As Howell takes the witness stand for a third day the game of chess between the shamed killer dentist and the respected QC, resumes again.



Murderer feared being caught if police ran forensic tests



Colin Howell believes that police would have caught him for murder if they had carried out forensic tests on the body of his ex-lover’s husband Trevor Buchanan.


Howell, who had studied forensics as part of an anatomy degree during a gap year from his dentistry studies, told Coleraine Crown Court yesterday he feared the murders had been discovered when he was questioned by police for a second time after the bodies of his victims were found in 1991.


Somewhere in the middle of the interview Detective (Jack) Hutchinson said to me it would need to be the perfect murder to get away with something like that.


And that made me wonder if something forensically had been detected.  I began to realise there were imperfections.”


Howell said histology tests on wounds on Mr Buchanan’s body, sustained during a struggle with Howell, would have found he died four hours earlier than thought.


However the police investigation was closed and an inquest ruled that Mr Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley had died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a suicide plot.


It was almost 20 years later before Howell admitted that the pair had been murdered.


Detective Hutchinson, who was the investigating officer at the time, told the court last week that no concerns had ever been raised with him about any potential criminal wrongdoing in the case.


Howell told the court he had used his medical background when executing the murders.


During my anatomy degree I spent time in the forensic science lab at Queens University so I picked up things there.  So I had an interest in it.  I have an intelligence of forensics.  My understanding of forensics came easily to me.” He said.


Howell denied that he was proud of the fact he had “hood-winked” police for so long.


I am ashamed I used my ability to have ingenuity and intelligence in the wrong way,” he said.





The questions and answers



What I did was the pinnacle of being callous’ … extracts from evidence given by killer dentist Collin Howell during cross-examination by defence QC Paul Ramsey




PAUL RAMSEY: Why are you here?


COLIN HOWELL: I am here as a witness to the events of 1991.  It was only after I acknowledged to myself the truth of what happened was bigger than myself I made the decision to get rid of all the deception in my life.  The events of 20 years ago, the impact of that is still alive and affecting people.  I am here because of the victims.  I have set myself up to be a punch-bag. … I’m prepared for what is coming today. … I am here today to give people a chance for their wounds to be closed.  I would not dare to ask for forgiveness.  If anyone choses to forgive me that is a good thing.  I believe someone doesn’t truly recover from an injury unless they forgive.


PR: You are being noble?


CH: There’s no personal benefit to me.  I’m here to bear my own disgrace.


PR: You have been described as being self-aware and very conscious of your attraction to the opposite sex.  Do you agree with that description?


CH: Only in part.


PR: You were described as a ladies’ man.  Would you agree you were a ladies’ man?


CH: Only in part because beneath it all, even in the most beautiful female or handsome man, there’s often insecurity.  Because of my success and status and wealth that made me attractive to some females and I got a positive response.


PR: You are intelligent?


CH: Yes


PR: You rose to the top of your profession?


CH: Yes


PR: These are qualities that are largely laudatory.  You have also been described as calculated.


CH: I do calculate things.


PR: Callous?


CH: What I did was the pinnacle of being callous.  My conscience became so crushed I could not deal with it any longer.


PR: Manipulative?


CH: I was very manipulative.


PR: Merciless?


CH: 20 years ago I was.


PR: Psychotic?


CH: I don’t believe I am.


PR: Dr Helen Harbinson (a psychiatrist who assed Howell) in her report said you were.


CH: I don’t agree with that conclusion.


PR: Evil?


CH: Yes I was.  I believe every human being has the potential to do what I dad.  But I did it and it sets me apart from humanity.


PR: Devious?


CH: All of the adjectives put to me, so far I agree.  That’s what I was, but I’m no longer that.


PR: Did you feel at any stage that you were quietly proud of fooling police?


CH: Absolutely not.


PR: Graham Stirling (an elder at the Barn Fellowship church) said there was an element of bravado about your endeavour to hoodwink police.


CH: I’m totally ashamed I misused my ability of ingenuity and intelligence in the wrong way.


PR: You are controlling.


CH: When you hold a dark secret you definitely have to control information … That makes you manipulative.  I do not believe I am controlling.  I have been in some situations.


Mr Ramsey referred to statements Howell made to police about his controlling influence

over Stewart and his wife Lesley.


CH: During my (police) interviews if I had been accused of killing JR Ewing or JFK I would have said okay I did that … I was agreeing with everything I was being told by the police rather than give my account of what was true.  My state of mind - I was overwhelmed with guilt.  I was agreeing with everything because I felt so guilty.


PR: The police said to you that you have committed and involved (Hazel) in double murder … and you feel you have ultimate control of Hazel now and you replied yes.


CH: I was agreeing with everything they said.  I was submitting to the authorities … I am very intelligent but I completely lost my marbles after being arrested.


PR: The police asked you did you find Hazel a strong person, a weak person?  Was she cold hearted or kind hearted?  You said “she was kind.  She was probably innocent”.  You said: “She probably was easy to control if you wanted to control her and vunerable to someone like me”.  Intellectually she was not on your level.  Is that your view of her?


CH: Some would say wee Jonny is easily led, but he is manipulative.  You have a wrong perception of being easily led.  It is a disguise.  A guise of being innocent.  This is a deception I was under about Hazel. … At the time of the interviews I was wanting to carry a lot of the guilt for Hazel.  I knew I was mastermind.  I had the intelligence to put the plan together.  I am the major person in this plan.  If I had been able to take all the blame I would have, but in the last two years I thought Hazel is not my responsibility.  When someone paints themselves as the victim, which is what Hazel did, it is the thing that draws you to her, she appears to be the victim.  It is like an advert for an orphanage in India.  You just want to get your wallet out.  But those adverts have business men behind them collecting money from people.


PR: You told the police she was simplistic, not very bright and easy to control.


CH: I agree that if she went and did her GCSE’s and A-Levels she wouldn’t do as well as I did.  But there’s different types of intelligence.  There is wiliness and guise.  Hazel was making her own choices and has to take responsibility for that.  We were waltzing together in time, I may have been the lead partner in the waltz but she was doing it in perfect harmony.


PR: Your sexual encounters with Hazel while under the influence of drugs administered by you … This was another form of control.


CH: I do not agree with that.  This has obviously to do with consent.  This is something that Hazel had fun with and chose to do voluntarily because she liked it and wanted it and was cooperative with it.


Mr Ramsay then asked Howell about the abortion Stewart underwent


CH: Hazel initiated the desire to have it and I was the one with the ability.  It was a joint venture.  Hazel wanted it and I facilitated it.  With the murders, I wanted it and Hazel facilitated it.  We were waltzing in time.  This is the perfect illustration of the harmony we had together.  The problem today is, Hazel lied to me so much, I do not know the truth any more about Hazel.


PR: Were you a puppet-master to the woman in your life?


CH: That is a graphic way of saying controlling.


PR: Everyone has to dance to Colin Howell’s tune - your wife Lesley - before your marriage to her she had three abortions in 1982.


CH: Sadly yes.


PR: Two of those were within three months of each other.  Your wife as a deeply religious person.


CH: That’s right.


PR: Her personality was, compared to Hazel Stewart, she was quicker than you verbally, more intelligent and critical.  She was a match for you.


CH: She was yes.


PR: You persuaded a bright, intelligent girl from a deeply religious background to undergo three abortions. 


CH: That’s not correct.


PR: Was this a joint enterprise?


CH: I have a great reluctance in telling much about Lesley.  There are things that Lesley, if she was alive, would be ashamed of … I would have to portray some of her childhood which I’m not willing to do.  In simple terms in was a joint enterprise.  Please, for Lesley’s sake.  It was not a dominance or control of Lesley.


PR: Were there opinions?


CH: In hindsight it (abortion) wasn’t the only opinion.  I believe a person who kills an unborn baby is capable of killing a living human being.


PR: It is an indication of your personality to just do what you want.


CH: It is much more complicated than you realise.  People have hidden secrets they are ashamed of.  I reflected back on the abortions and I realised that what we had really done was murdered unborn children.


PR: The abortion made Hazel more vulnerable?


CH: It was a completely mutual decision … it was like a blood contract between Hazel and I to murder an unborn baby.  A secret link that is a very strong bond.  Coming to Hazel with my idea to have joint venture to kill Trevor and Lesley we had already signed a contract in blood to kill an unborn baby.  It was a very powerful bond we had.  The only way to break that bond is to do what we’re doing today.  I’m maybe straying into something you don’t understand.


PR: Dr Harbinson said you described yourself to her as a small god who needed to be worshiped by women.


CH: I said something like that but it was misunderstood … What she wrote was an inaccurate statement of what I said.




Killer claims he almost confessed over 10 years ago






Colin Howell was within hours of owning up to police in 1998 about the murders of his wife Lesley and Trevor Buchanan, he claimed in court.


After first revealing his guilt to his second wife Kyle, two years after they married, he made arrangements to bring the two families together at a hotel, make his confession and then hand himself over to the authorities.


But he told the jury at Coleraine Court yesterday that he underwent a “religious conviction” after meeting a girl at a Sunday night church service where he claimed she told him: “Colin, all your sins have been forgiven and forgotten by God”.


He married his second wife, a divorcee with two children, in May 1997.  She had been through a difficult and abusive marriage in the United States before coming to live in Northern Ireland with her children.


Howell met her at a Bible study class.  He had four children from his first marriage and the couple went on to have another five.


Howell said he wanted to tell Kyle about the deaths of his first wife and Mr Buchanan because he realised he had deceived her.


He said he explained to Kyle the difficulties in his first marriage and the fact that Lesley Howell had abortions.  He said she was shocked by his revelations and told him: “You have to go to the police.”


He told the court Kyle promised to stand by him, visit him in prison and look after the children until he got out.


He said he also took measures to sell his dental practice in Scotland and approached two individuals.  It was part of his plan to set up a financial base for his wife and children.


Kyle’s parents were due to fly in from America in September that year and he decided he would call the two families together as well as his church elders.


He made a reservation at the Burrendale Hotel in Newcastle, Co. Down, where he said he planned to make his confession before being arrested and going to jail.


Howell said he was to meet his mother and father that Saturday night, but he got a telephone call from his father telling him that he [his father] had agreed to stand in for a preacher the following night, and would be staying at home.


Howell said he went to his own church that Sunday and while he was there a girl spoke to him and said: “Colin, I just don’t know why I am telling you this but your sins are forgiven and forgotten by God.”


Howell said he spoke with Kyle and talked about the disruption it would cause to the house if he confessed.  They agreed it would be best if it was left in the past.


He told the court: “I felt hugely relieved.  There was no enforcement.”


+       +       +







Double killer Colin Howell has been accused of murdering his wife purely for financial gain.


The one-time Christian preacher benefited to the tune of £414,000 through the death of his wife Lesley, a defence lawyer has told Coleraine Crown Court.


The former dentist has been giving evidence against his ex-lover Hazel Stewart, who denies the murders of her husband Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell in 1991.


Colin Howell has already admitted the killings.


During another day of cross-examination, Paul Ramsey QC said: “She (Lesley) was worth more to you dead than alive basically, wasn’t that right?”





The questions and answers


Extracts from day two of murdering dentist’s cross-examination by Paul Ramsey QC




PAUL RAMSEY: During your intense physical affair with Hazel you would leave the house at midnight, leave your wife sleeping heavily, and you would go to Hazel Buchanan’s house, where you would have intercourse and come back maybe at three or four in the morning.


COLIN HOWELL: Yes.  Hazel would let me know when Trevor was on duty and would open the back door to let me in.  That’s a joint venture.


PR: When you went out your wife was sleeping soundly.  Would she have taken temazepam at that time@


CH: Yes.


PR: Were you drugging your wife when you were going on these night-time trysts?


CH: No.  Lesley would have regularly taken temazepam and glasses of wine.


PR: You have a history of drugging people.  You drugged Hazel for sexual purposes.  You drugged patients.


CH: Yes … I know where this is going … Lesley was taking temazepam and alcohol at her own will.  I had access to temazepam and Lesley would say I need more temazepam, so I would write a prescription for her.


PR: Did you give her the drugs?


CH: The word give has two meanings.  You could say Colin provided temazepam but did not suggest or propose she takes temazepam.


JUDGE HART: Were you physically administering any form of drug to your wife?


CH: The answer to that is absolutely no.


Mr Ramsey referred to Lesley Howell’s attempted suicide when she first discovered Howell

had been having an affair.


PR: Do you remember in your statement to police you said: “I realised that if she died things for me might be better.”  What popped into your head was murder.


CH: No.


PR: That’s what you told police.


CH: Anyone who has an affair thinks thoughts like that.  Anyone who has an affair thinks it would be better off without their partner.  Not everyone takes action but it is the concept that life would be better without them.  I didn’t have the idea then that I would do anything about it.  It’s just a thought process.


PR: Whatever your philosophy, you were thinking of killing your wife long before you told Hazel Buchanan.


CH: I have given a very clear explanation of why that is wrong.


PR: Margaret Topping (Lesley’s friend who gave evidence last week) recalled Lesley telling her that while she was in the bath you dropped an electric cable into the bath water.  In July 2009 police came to interview you about the attempted murder of your wife.


CH: You mean the alleged attempted murder.  I remember there was something in my heart that was wrong about that incident.  I knew something had happened.


PR: What Lesley told Mrs Topping was that she got an electric shock.


CH: She didn’t.


PR: Why would you have a memory of what you first told police was an innocuous incident?


CH: There was something significant about it. (My memory) was fuzzy.  If you look at a star in the sky and then you get a telescope you realise it is two stars.  It was fuzzy.  Something happened and I can see that incident now in focus and remember the issues going on in my heart.  Lesley had wanted a curtain in the bathroom.  I went to B&Q to buy a curtain track.  I put in an extension lead and holes for the drill but I didn’t get the job finished.  There was an extension lead from the hallway to the bathroom for the drill.  Lesley thought I had been away at B&Q a long time.  She believed I had made some phone contact with Hazel.  I had not.  At some point she got into her dressing gown to have a bath.  I continued running backwards and forwards with the kids.  She had seen the extension lead and brought in the cassette player and asked me to connect it for her.  It was the moment it occurred to me.  Just a flash of thought.  When I came back in there there was some Radox (in the bath).


PR: Which is a good conductor of electricity.


CH: At one point I sat on the edge of the bath and we were arguing.  I recall it going on and on and I thought if I threw it (the radio cassette) in it would kill her.  The thoughts were going on but I had no intention.


PR: Like the thoughts you had when you wife went into hospital (after the overdose)?


CH: Yes, that thought came into my head.  I got the loop of the cable, held it in my hands.  Lesley looked at me.  There was a pregnant pause.  Suddenly, there was a shift of power.  What I did deliberately was show Lesley I was holding the power.


PR: That you had the power?


CH: Yes, that I was in control.  I flicked the loose part of the cable on her back and dropped the radio on the floor.  There was no water behind her.  Just her shoulders.  She did not get an electric shock.  It was a moment to try and shift the power from Lesley to me.  That was the moment the seed was planted.  I thought, I can do something about this.  I think this was the early part of April (1991).  It was a shift of power.  I believe Lesley knew in that pregnant pause that I had the potential to kill her.  In those seconds she knew I could kill her.  She recognised the shift in power.


PR: Are you saying she feared for her life?


CH: There was a recognition at the time that I had the capability of killing her.


PR: This is before any conversation with the accused (Stewart).  There were no plans for joint enterprise.


CH: I do not believe I shared the thought with Hazel Buchanan.  It wasn’t a plot to kill.  It was the moment I thought I can do something about this.  It was a turning point.  I saw it in that moment that there was something in me that could kill her and she was correct.  I didn’t draw up a plan to kill her right away.  That happened later on, what I would call the eureka moment on May 13.


PR: You wanted to take control?


CH: Yesterday I successfully demolished every suggestion I was the person in control.  By telling (second wife) Kyle (about the murders), Kyle was able to chose the moment of my confession.  I had given control to Kyle.  I lost my control with Lesley after the affair I had.  The church and control of me after the affair … it is shown I was out of control, but the women in my life controlled me.  King Solomon, a very wise man, said ‘The man who commits adultery gives up his strength to the one who is cruel’.  I would not want to argue with the wisest man in the world.


PR: I am going to suggest to you, you did give your wife a shock.  It was an attempt to kill her.  I’m going to refer to something else.  What was your financial situation at the time?


CH: I had bought a dental practice in Ballymoney, the property and the equipment, and had also moved into a new house.  The practice was successful but I had a lot of overheads.


PR. The practice was running at a loss?


CH: There were financial pressures but I wasn’t going to go bankrupt.


PR: You were under pressure?


CH: Yes.


PR: Your friend Marshal Reilly said he was asked by you to lend you money, £10, 000.


CH: It was £8,000.


PR: Once your wife died your financial position improved immensely.


CH: After about a year.


PR: You paid back that loan to Mr Riley six months after your wife’s death and you told him the life insurance policy had paid up.


CH: No.  It was not paid out until after the inquest.  I paid back the money with profits from the business.  The records show that before the life insurance I was able to pay back the loan … the prosecution said there was no financial motive for the murders.


PR: You are quite right, the prosecution did say that, but I’m not the prosecution.  The financial benefits - you got £212,000 from your wife’s estate.


CH: Yes.


PR: £27,000 from the estate of your father-in-law, life insurance of £120, 000 and also a life endowment of £54,000.  You also benefited from your house at Knocklayde Park which became your property and you later sold it for £131,000, having bought it for £20, 000.  That is what you got as a result of your wife’s death.


CH: There has been a miscalculation.  The final figure is £212, 000.


PR: All your financial problems were resolved by your wife’s death.  It is all about the money.


CH: That is wrong.  Totally wrong.




Bible quotes and answers like sermons…

even the judge appeared to be irritated






Colin Howell is a man obsessed with being in control.  During his third day of testimony in the witness box the killer dentist admitted to the court that he considered electrocuting his wife Lesley in the bath to show her he was “holding the power”.


But he denied going through with the “thought” of dropping a radio cassette player into the water just weeks before he murdered her.


He said that Lesley had control over him ever since she discovered his affair with Hazel Stewart.  Frustrated by his lack of control over his wife, Howell said he flicked her with the power cable of the cassette player to let her know there was now a shift in power.


Suddenly there was a shift in power.  What I did deliberately was show Lesley I was holding the power.  That I was in control.  It was a moment to try and shift the power from Lesley to me.  That was the moment the seed (to murder) was planted.  I thought, I can do something about this,” he said.  I believe Lesley knew in that pregnant pause that I had the potential to kill her.  In those seconds she knew I could kill her.  She recognised the shift in power.


There was a recognition at the time that I had the capability of killing her.”


The 51-year-old told the court that he had lost control over the women in his life.


By telling Kyle (his second wife) about the murders the controlshifted to her.  Kyle was able to chose the moment of my confession.  I had given control to Kyle.”


He said he lost his control over Lesley after she discovered his affair and that his church also had control over him after his infidelity was discovered.


It was shown I was out of control.  The women in my life controlled me,” he said.


His desire to dominate was evident by his attempts to outsmart defence barrister Paul Ramsey QC.  When Mr Ramsey spoke of his unhappy relationship with Lesley after she had three abortions and suggested their children were “blessings” in the marriage, Howell said: “That’s a shallow thing to say.”


He smiled as Mr Ramsey read from a police statement that he had smiled when by detectives if he had attempted to electrocute his wife in the bath.


Sometimes I smile at you.  It is a bemused smile at being asked something so outrageous,” he said.


Although slightly distracted at times yesterday - possibly bothered by the appearance of his daughter Lauren - he still clearly enjoyed holding the full attention of the court and took the opportunity to try and exhibit his knowledge of the Bible.  He referred to scripture on a number of occasions.


Explaining why he believed he had lost control of his life when wife Lesley discovered his affair with Hazel Stewart, he paraphrased Proverbs, Chapter five.


King Solomon, considered to be the wisest man, said a man who commits adultery gives up his strength to one who is cruel,” he said.


I wouldn’t want to argue with the wisest man in the world.”


Again, he quoted chapter and verse when recalling an incident seven years after the killings when he claims he was on the verge of confessing, only to draw back when a Christian friend read him a passage that struck a cord.


She read a verse from the Bible that talked about judging things at the right time,” he told the jury.  “I think it was 1 Corinthians, Chapter Four, Verse Four.”  The passage to which Howell referred, which is actually verse five, states: Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes.”


Appearing irritated by Howell’s sermon-like answers, Judge Mr Justice Hart said to him on a number of occasions: Mr Howell, just confine yourself to what you did or did not do.  Just answer the questions.”


Mr Ramsey also appeared frustrated.


Is it possible for you to explain anything in two sentences Mr Howell” he asked him.



+       +       +









Now the strain begins to show



Four days of listening to ex-lover brandishing her a murderer takes its toll






After four days of listening to her ex-lover describe in detail the intimacies of their relationship and details of the murder of their spouses, the strain was beginning to show on Hazel Stewart’s face.


The mother-of-two - who denies killing her husband and her former lover’s wife - was visibly drained after a week in which she has heard killer dentist Colin Howell tell the jury that they were “waltzing in time” when their partners were murdered.


She has also heard her former lover accuse her of seducing him and then being complicit in the double murder of the father of her children and subsequent plot to fool the police.


Mrs Stewart sat in the dock yesterday, as she has done all week, refusing to look at Howell as he sat in the witness box telling his horrific tale of drug-induced sex, betrayal and finally murder.


But as she left the court yesterday the stress of the nightmare appeared etched on her face as at one stage she closed her eyes, perhaps to try and shut out the horrible reality of the situation she finds herself in. 


Earlier, when Howell was being taken through the dock to the holding cells, Hazel Stewart did not even glance at her former lover.


There was a brief moment when Howell, escorted by prison guards, looked over at Stewart as he was being led out the door, but she remained resolute, staring at the ground.


Her second husband, however, sat intently watching Howell while he listened to the evidence.


The atmosphere in court was tense as Howell was questioned on his decision to kill his wife and her husband Trevor Buchanan on May 18, 1991.


He was put under pressure by defence Barrister Paul Ramsey QC, who put it to Mr Howell that the decision was spontaneous and his client didn’t know about it.  Something he denied.


But the crunch moment came during the second half of Howell’s evidence.  There was a deafening silence in courtroom two when the killer dentist admitted he “was a monster”.


All eyes were on the defence barrister and the convicted killer as a set of quick-fire questions culminated with the seasoned QC putting to Howell that he was a liar and a monster.


Referring to Howell’s own trial, in which his defence barrister Richard Weir QC told the court he was “not a monster but had done a monstrous thing”, Mr. Ramsey said: “But you are a monster, aren’t you Mr Howell?”


I was a monster and a killer, but not any longer.” He replied.  That’s part of my confession.”


It was a moment when the entire court room - filled to capacity with family and friends, as well as lawyers and reporters - was captivated.


Throughout the day Mr Howell had again displayed his inclination for long drawn-out answers, prompting Judge Anthony Hart to chastise him a couple of times.  He was also told my Mr Ramsey that he was straying from the point on a number of occasions.


It started early in proceedings when Howell told the court he had new evidence to submit after remembering a second meeting with Mrs Stewart where they planned the murders.  He began by explaining how “distant memories are like stars; at first it looks like one star but when you magnify up it’s actually two stars”.


He said he had left court the day before feeling “troubled”, and he believed there was “something missing” from his evidence.  He said he had spent the night thinking about what it could be and realised that there had in fact been two meetings prior to the double murders - one in the Buchanan house and one in Stewart’s car.


He told the jury that the first meeting happened in the middle of the night when Mr Buchanan was on duty.  He had gone round to the house and explained to Mrs Stewart the plan he had concocted, but she didn’t understand the details.


I remember when I presented the plan, Hazel didn’t object in principle on that first occasion, but she didn’t understand the plan and when I left she hadn’t agreed to the plan on the basis that she was worried we would get caught,” he said.


The night in the car five days later I realised that she had not understood how we wouldn’t get caught, so the meeting in the car was when I gave her the tablets and re-clarified the plan in simple terms.


What I had done was converge two nights into one.  I knew I was getting muddled because I knew there was something missing, and I couldn’t understand what it was.  I got concerned that if I muddled, then can I tell the whole truth, that’s when I began to sit back and ponder and remember there were two nights.”


He said he wasn’t “afraid to give new evidence” because it cleared the muddle in his head.


I was concerned that my evidence would make things worse for Hazel,” he added.


I don’t want Hazel to get her sentencing or whatever for that.  I realised I had got muddled.


This is not changing the picture of what I had said.


It’s not that I knew about it and held back, that’s not what I’m saying, but memories from 20 years ago are difficult to recall.  Because this is an important issue.  I’ve thought about it.”




Failed treasure hunt triggered my confession, claims monster






Colin Howell was accused of being a “monster” who murdered his wife simply for money.


Howell is said to have benefited from his wife’s death to the tune of several hundred thousand pounds.


Defence lawyer David Ramsey yesterday again pushed the idea that Mr Howell committed the murders for financial gain.


You’re wrong about that, my motive was not the money,” Howell said in response.


Howell, who said he only made £212,000 out of Lesley’s death, insisted love was his and Mrs Stewart’s motive.


It emerged that Howell had believed he would land £20m my ploughing his life savings into a diving project to find Japan’s war gold, but ended up with only a few silver coins worth £30, the trial of his lover heard.


The dentist invested £350,000 in the recovery dig in caves in the Philippines only to discover it was a massive scam that only recovered a few brass ammunition boxes.


He told Coleraine Crown Court the realisation he had been duped at the end of 2008 was the trigger which led to him confessing.


I made a decision in that moment that I wanted to confess to those murders,” he said.


Howell had been persuaded to get involved in the ill-fated venture by a fellow Baptist and the man who presented him with the ammunition boxes containing the near worthless contents when he flew to Manila was a Christian.


I looked at him and said ‘you’re lying, you’re a fraud’, and as soon as I said that it reflected back on me and I knew I was a fraud too.” He said.


Since the end of World War Two, tales have abounded that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, buried a multi-million pound hoard of gold bullion in bunkers in the Philippines.


The legend has prompted countless treasure hunts, but none have struck the jackpot.


Mr Ramsey QC, Hazel Stewart’s defence barrister, speculated that Howell would not have admitted to the murders had his ship come in.


If these ammunition boxes were packed to the gunnels with Yamamoto’s gold, would you have gone to the police?” he said.


The lawyer, who claimed the murders were motivated by money and not his desire to be with Stewart, suggested his confession was also linked to his finances.


The reason you went to police was because you had no money left,” he said.


Howell said it was not the loss of his savings, but the deception by someone who claimed to be a Christian believer that made him unburden his secret.  My conscience that had been buried deep in my own bunker covered with concrete suddenly exploded,” he said.


In the last line of his marathon 12-hour cross-examination.  Mr. Ramsey declared: “I put it to you that you are a monster, Mr Howell.”


The father-of-11, who two years ago admitted to the May 1991 murders, which were at the time believed to be suicides, ended his time in the witness box as he began it, with a profession of repentance.


I was a monster and I was a killer, but I’m not any longer and that’s part of my confession,” he said calmly.




Killer: Hazel and her kids under no threat from me






Killer dentist Colin Howell threatened to kill his lover and her children if she didn’t agree to his plan to kill their spouses.


The jury heard in court yesterday that Hazel Stewart feared for her life and those of her two children, Andrew and Lisa, if she didn’t comply with her lover’s murderous demands.


Howell denied the accusations by defence barrister Paul Ramsey QC, and said it was a lie concocted my Mrs Stewart, which had developed from the fear she had that her children could inhale some of the carbon monoxide gas used to kill her husband.


One of the ways to tell lies is to have a truth and then change it,” he said.  I’m aware that Hazel said if I don’t do it I would kill her Andrew and Lisa.


I think she remembers the fear that Andrew and Lisa could be harmed that night.”


He said Mrs Stewart had been “worried” that the fumes being piped into her house to kill her husband would leak into her children’s bedroom and kill them too.


He said he had tried to reassure her that this couldn’t happen.


He denied the children would have been in any danger from him.


Describing Howell as “a force of nature” on the night of the murders, Mr Ramsey said “nothing and nobody was going to stop you”. 


There was nobody in the Buchanan house that would have wanted to stop me, other than Trevor,” replied Howell.


There was nobody I was expecting to show me any conflict other than Trevor.”


After agreeing that he had “dealt with” Mr Buchanan when he awoke and attempted to fight off his murderer, Howell admitted that the possibility the children would wake up was “a big risk”.


I think that would have been the game up for Hazel and for me.” He said.


Asked if the children would have been in any danger from him, he said: “No, they wouldn’t.”


Howell later admitted he had been “completely delusional” and his thinking “completely up the left” in the months after the killings.


Referring to the letter which he had written to Mrs Stewart (then Buchanan) and given to a friend in the Coleraine Baptist Church to pass on to her on the day of his wife’s funeral, he said he had been “horrified and shocked” when he read it in police interviews.


The letter had been photocopied and handed to police when Howell confessed to the murders.


He described it as “one of the biggest shocks” when he was shown a copy of the letter after his arrest.


+       +       +









Hazel: I was easy prey of Howell


Accused told police she was in fear for her life







Murder accused Hazel Stewart claimed she was “easy prey” for Colin Howell and he had her under his control.


Stewart said she was terrified of her former lover and feared he would kill her if she tried to end their relationship.


My personality is soft and weak, very vulnerable, and he had full control over me,” she said.


Mrs Stewart did not take the stand yesterday, rather Coleraine Court listened to tapes of her police interviews.


She could be heard breaking down as she spoke of the murders of her husband and Howell’s wife.


The murder accused could be heard saying: “The joy went out of my life that day.  Every day you just want your life to end.”


He’s a very calculating person, a very clever guy.  I’m not very bright, unfortunately, but he was a step ahead of me the whole time.”




The stony-faced demeanour slips as Police tapes played to jury






For the first time in more than two weeks a flicker of emotion crossed Hazel Stewart’s face.


As she sat in the dock wearing her trademark plum coat, the double murder accused turned her head to look at her family, her eyes pleading with them to understand.


Routinely stony-faced, the mother-of-two looked less composed yesterday as she listened to her own evidence during a series of taped police interviews played to the jury.


She described herself as “weak”, “vunerable” and “soft”, in stark contrast to the “controlling” and “obsessive” nature of former lover Colin Howell.


Her daughter Lisa, a nurse at the City Hospital in Belfast, sobbed quietly as she listened to her mother speak about how she wanted to die after the murder of their father Trevor Buchanan, rather than be arrested for her crimes.


The public gallery fell silent as Stewart told police about the night Howell came to her house to murder her husband in a staged suicide plot.


Her voice cracking with emotion, Stewart could be heard stopping to catch her breath as she spoke, as if struggling to put into words what she had done.


Sergeant Geoffrey Ferris, who conducted the taped interviews, frequently had to remind Stewart about the seriousness of the allegations against her.


You have to face reality here and there is nobody else who can deal with this situation except you.” He told her.


I know you have lived with this now for 18 years and I’m sure it must have been difficult for you.”


Stewart said she knew Howell had come to her house in Coleraine in May 1991 to kill her husband, but had to be coaxed into admitting she knew what had happened when she saw his body in the boot of Howell’s car.


As far as you were aware, what condition was Trevor in at this stage?,” Sergeant Ferris asked her.


Well, I took it, dead,” she replied.


And how do you think he died?” she was asked.


Stewart told police: “By the fumes of the car.  Because he had a pipe running from the car down to the bedroom.”


The former Sunday school teacher spoke with a hushed voice as she described her affair with Howell, unable for a while to mention him by name.


She said Howell had made rules on how she could behave in her relationship with Mr Buchanan.


You have to understand that person, unless you know him,” she said.  He has quite a grip on you psychologically, you know, mentally.


He can work his way, he’s very good at it.  At the beginning when I did meet him, yes I felt ‘this guy is great’, loved him and all that.


But as time went on, and after the abortion, it bothered me.”


Stewart’s current husband David, daughter Lisa and her son Andrew just sat metres away from the dock as she told police in the interview of her desire to die after the murder of her first partner.


I was so scared and I have lived every day of my life since that happened wanting to die,” she said.


I’d rather be dead than go through this for the sake of my children.”


Yesterday’s tapes seemed to reveal a lonely, desperate, somewhat confused woman.



+       +       +










What the tapes revealed


* She wished she had driven off a cliff instead of being arrested


* She knew she should have told police about Howell’s plan


* She cut up and burned the hosepipe used to lill Trevor


* She thought Lesley Howell was “good for her children


* She denied administering any drugs to husband Trevor


* She once “freaked out” after Howell gave her too much laughing gas




How the cracks began to show as police probed deeper in interview





It was the calm before the storm.


Hazel Stewart looked composed as she sat in the dock on the 10th day of her murder trial flanked by two police officers behind the glass partition.


Wearing a white shirt and dark-rimmed reading glasses, the accused kept her head bowed as she read through transcripts of police evidence playing aloud to the court.


After the emotional exchanges heard earlier in the week, Stewart seemed determined to remain calm as the jury heard more tapes of interviews conducted shortly after her arrest.  Her expression was neutral, almost businesslike, as she entered the dock at Coleraine Crown Court yesterday with a quick squeeze of her husband’s hand.


With her familiar plum coat wrapped tightly round her, Stewart glanced up only briefly between tapes to look over towards her children, loyally sitting just inches away.


But the impressive woman sitting in the dock was a stark contrast to the confused, desperate defendant whose voice was played aloud to the jury.  The public gallery fell silent as Stewart told police she would have killed herself if she’d known she was about to be arrested for murder after Howell’s confession in January 2009.


Maybe if I’d known they (the police) were there, maybe I’d have run the car over a cliff.  I don’t know,” she said.


I always said I would do that.  Maybe it’s too late for me.”


Stewart’s soft, breathy voice was often the only noise that could be heard in Court No 2, frequently pausing as she broke down during interview.


At one point in the tapes she could be heard pleading with detectives to keep her in custody overnight rather than sending her home to her family.


I can’t go home, no,” she said.


It’s not my call.  It’s not going to go away Hazel.” Sergeant Ferris told her.  Where’s it going to leave me?” he asked.


Once again, mother-of-two Stewart spoke frequently about her children, telling police she felt she had to protect them from Colin Howell’s “controlling” ways.


But there was also a certain self-centredness to her evidence, with the murder accused claiming it was hard to cope with the guilt of knowing what Howell had done.  My life was ruined because of something he’d done in my house,” she said.


The Buchanan family, relatives of her late husband Trevor, shifted in their seats as Stewart spoke about the “tense” relationship between them after the apparent suicides.


They came up, they did come up to the house,” she said.


They seemed okay then, though, through the years, maybe I wasn’t so sure.”  Later, as discrepancies between her evidence and Howell’s became clear, police had to coax Stewart into talking about the night of her husband’s murder.  She admitted lying at the time about what had happened but became monotone in her responses, blaming “bad memory” for her confusion.


This is a very serious offence that you have been arrested for,” Sgt. Ferris told her.


We need to know the truth, we need to know exactly what happened from A to Z, from both you and Colin as you’re the only ones who can answer,” he said.


Now, you’re a woman who understands the truth.”


Yes, I do,” she replied.


Who understands honesty, who understands being up front, who knows the difference between right and wrong - and who certainly believes there’s a God up there,” he said.


It was clear that Stewart, outwardly so well put-together, was beginning to crack under the pressure of police interview.


With four dramatic tapes still to be played in court, the full extent of her involvement in this twisted tale is ret to be revealed.


+       +       +









Flanked by prison guards, Stewart wept openly as the final tapes played





* Stewart weeps as court told she went along with Howell’s plan


* She admits killings were a joint enterprise with ex-lover


* She encouraged her husband to take sedative on night he was killed


* Accused says sorry to family of her dead husband Trevor


* Meeting Howell biggest mistake of my life, she claims


* She said she didn’t know if she loved Howell or was afraid if him


* She told detectives: It’s over for me, I’ll never have a life again





Double murder accused Hazel Stewart admitted to detectives that she could have stopped the killing of her husband and ex-lover Colin Howell’s wife.


During police interviews Stewart said she knew about Howell’s plan to murder her husband Trevor Buchanan and his wife Lesley in May 1991.


She said that she was sorry and wanted to apologise to Mr. Buchanan’s family, their two children Andrew and Lisa, and to her second husband David Stewart.


Recordings of the interviews, which were carried out in January 2009 after Howell confessed to the murders, were played to the jury at Coleraine Crown court yesterday.


The 47-year-old former Sunday school teacher’s husband and two children were in court supporting her.  Members of Mr Buchanan’s family sat on the opposite side of the courtroom.


When asked during the interviews by Detective Sergeant Geoff Ferris if she accepted that on numerous opportunities before the murder she could have controlled the situation and stopped both murders, she replied: “Yes, I could have stopped it.”


She told police that she asked Howell not to go through with the murders.


It was a horrible thing.  I knew what he was coming to do.  I didn’t want him to do it.  But it’s done, I let it happen,” she said.


Stewart added that Howell had pressured her into going along with the murder plot.


He arranged it for that Saturday that he would come around, and he did.  I looked at the back of the car.  I didn’t know it was Lesley.  He told me it was Lesley.  At that stage I felt like being sick, I had to run away.  I didn’t want this to happen but he was there and he wanted to do this and I stood back,” she said.


Stewart told police that she had encouraged her husband to take a sleeping tablet on the night of the murders.  She denied giving him the drug, but admitted that sedating him was part of Howell’s plan.


The court also heard Stewart admit that she got rid of the evidence by destroying a hosepipe that was used to gas the victims while they slept.


Stewart denied murdering her husband, RUC constable Trevor Buchanan, and Howell’s wife Lesley almost 20 years ago.  Their bodies were discovered in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock in an apparent suicide bid.  Howell is serving a 21-year-jail term after admitting last year to the murders.


Detective Sergeant Ferris told her during interview: “We are in no doubt it was calculated.  It was vicious in relation to what you did, both of you.  You showed no regard for your partners, for their families, and no regard for your own children.  You made that decision that you could live with your two children, aged only nine and ten at the time, and you agreed to a plan that resulted in the father of your two children being murdered in the very house where they lay sleeping.  It can’t get any colder than that Hazel.”





On day 11 Hazel Stewart finally cracked.  The steely impassivity previously assumed by the former Sunday school teacher was ruptured as the court heard, in her own words, how she was terrified of losing her two children and her husband now that the murders had been uncovered.


Sitting in the dock between two prison guards, a tired looking Stewart broke down in tears as the recordings of her final interviews with police in January 2009 were played to the jury.


By the end of 15 intense interviews Stewart had admitted knowing about the plan to murder her husband and Howell’s wife, not doing anything to stop it and covering up vital evidence.


As her soft voice echoed loudly throughout the silent courtroom the 47-year-old put her head in her hands and began to weep.


I would like to say sorry to Trevor’s family.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a son.  To David my husband, I love him so much, and Lisa and Andrew, they were my life and I have lost it.


The thought of losing my children and David is the hardest thing.  But I destroyed their lives and the lives of Colin’s children.” she said during her interview.


Nodding her head across the courtroom towards her daughter Lisa, who was silently crying, Stewart wiped her eyes with a white handkerchief.  Her husband David Stewart bit his lip and appeared to be fighting back tears.  The biggest mistake of my life was meeting Colin Howell and I have paid the price over the past 17/18 rears.


Since that happened I lost so much of my life - all the joy, peace and contentment.  It was like living in a black hole every day.  I thought about it 24/7.  My guilt was horrendous,” Stewart told police.


She added: “I hate him (Howell).  I saw what he had done, how capable he was.  I was scared for my children.  I have never got over it.  I’m going through all this now.  Lesley was a lovely girl.  Trevor was very good too.


I’ve destroyed many lives


He (Howell) is a very cold, calculated person; I was a soft, easy target.  I will live with this until the day I die.  I have destroyed many lives.  People will be so shocked.  My family, especially Lisa, Andrew and David.  They are my life.”


Stewart told police that she had never wanted to marry again in case the murders were ever discovered.


I did not want to drag them through this.  I met David and I loved him.


He was very persistent that we should get married because he was so happy.  Inside, I was tormented.  I thought, ‘if this ever gets out’.  He could never have thought I could do something like that.  Now it has come to this,” she said.


Stewart added: “I have wrecked his life and my children’s.  I can only hope and pray that the church will stay close to my children.  I can’t be there to look after them, and they need me.  I’m scared.”


As the court adjourned after the final interview was played Stewart’s husband and two children hugged her tightly.


Their support for her throughout the trial has not wavered.



+       +       +









* Barrister tells murder trial he will not be presenting

any evidence in Stewart’s defence


* Judges warns accused that her decision not to take the stand

will be taken into account by the jury


* Howell writes from prison to insist his account of the murders

Was ‘accurate in essence


* Trial adjourned until Monday when defence and prosecution

will begin closing statements





Deciding not to speak is the accused’s last throw of dice…

and her biggest gamble





An air of expectancy spread through the courtroom as the prosecution case against Hazel Stewart drew to a close.


The 47-year-old former Sunday school teacher had been in deep discussion with her legal team moments before the judge and jury entered the court for day 12 of her murder trial.


Appearing slightly more relaxed than in previous days, she nodded and smiled slightly towards her two children Andrew and Lisa and her husband David, who were once again sitting in the front of the public gallery.


They smiled back and her daughter Lisa mouthed “okay?” to her mother.


With the prosecution case at an end it was now time to hear Stewart’s version of the horrible events that led to the murders of her husband and former lover’s wife.


Her ex-lover, killer dentist Colin Howell, had previously told the court that while he was the mastermind behind the plot, he could not have carried out the murders without her.


He insisted that Stewart had seduced him from the start of their affair and that she was a willing participant in the murders of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell.


Flies go into the spider’s web because they think there is some food for them there and I willingly went after the bait, and we got caught together in the trap,” he said. 


But the air of anticipation waiting for Stewart’s defence was abruptly replaced by an air of disbelief when her lawyer Paul Ramsey QC got to his feet and told the court he was not calling any defence.


Judge Mr. Justice Hart asked Mr. Ramsey if his client was aware that her decision not to give evidence would be taken into account by the jury of three women and nine men.


The jury may draw such inference as would appear proper from her failure to do so,” the judge said.


Mr Ramsey said Stewart was aware of the situation.


Colin Howell’s presence has hung heavily over this trial and he clearly revelled in being centre stage last week while giving evidence against Stewart.


Stewart may have hoped, as he was led from the witness box, through the court and back to HMP Maghaberry after his final day of evidence, that she would never hear from him again.


Yesterday, however, Howell made his presence known once again with a letter he penned to the judge from his prison cell that was read to the court.  Howell said he wanted to clarify a few points of his evidence but insisted that his testimony to the court is true and that his account “was accurate in essence”.


Adjourning the case until Monday for both the prosecution and defence to make their closing submissions, Mr Justice Hart advised the jury to try to put the case out of their minds until then.


Glancing momentarily towards the jury members Stewart sighed, the strain again etched on her face.


Earlier this week the court had heard her tell police during interview about the murders in 2009 that her life was now over.


It’s over for me.  I’ll never have a life again,” she said at the police station.


Now that her fate is so close to being decided, that thought, should she be found guilty of murder, will no doubt be weighing heavily on her mind.



Letter from a killer … Howell writes to judge from his cell



Killer dentist Colin Howell wrote a letter from his prison cell to the judge in his former lover’s murder trial claiming that his testimony against her was “accurate in essence”.


The brief letter, addressed to Judge Hart and dated February 20, 2011, was read to the court yesterday as his former lover Hazel Stewart listened from the dock.


In the letter Howell said he wanted to clarify minor details about the timing in relation to two incidents prior to the murders - one when he dangled an electric cable over his wife in the bath and the second when he made contact with Stewart again after an enforced break in their affair ordered by church elders.


Howell said that the incident in the bath and the renewed contact with Stewart happened on two separate occasions.


He said that he is satisfied his testimony to the court last week was true and that his account was “accurate in essence”.  He wrote, however, that on reflection he may have “layered the true facts” and wanted to clarify some matters.


He said it is true that when he telephoned Stewart for the first time after their enforced break she was pleased to hear from him.  Howell had told the court previously that during that contact she had used the phrase “I will love you till I’m old and grey”.


In his letter, however, he said that while it is true that “on occasion” she would have used that phrase, she may not have used it on that particular day.


I have not misrepresented the role of my co-accused in any other way,” the letter concluded.


It was signed: “Yours sincerely, Colin Howell.”


The letter was penned three days after Howell - who confessed to murdering his wife Lesley and Stewart’s husband Trevor Buchanan almost 20 years after their bodies were discovered in a car in Castlerock - gave evidence against his former lover.


During three days in the dock Howell told the court that he was the mastermind behind the murder plot, but that it could not have happened without Stewart’s co-operation.


She didn’t say no, there was no objection to me being there,” he said.


Howell added: “I had the intelligence to put the plan together.


I am the major person in this plan.”


But he said that he and Stewart “waltzed” together in harmony.


We were waltzing together in time.  I may have been the lead partner in the waltz, but she was doing it in perfect harmony,” he said.


He also told the court that if forensic tests had been carried out on the body of Mr Buchanan he may have been caught, that everyone has the potential to kill, and that Stewart entered into a “blood pact” with him when she had an abortion before the murders.


Howell told the jury that he was giving evidence against Stewart as he was now ashamed and sorrowful for what he did and wanted to help the families of his victims get closure.





Sarah Rainey recounts Hazel Stewart’s trial, day by day






A jury of nine men and three women were sworn in on the first day of the double murder trial.  Judge Mr Justice Hart told them that Stewart (47) stands accused of killing her husband Trevor Buchanan and the wife of her former lover Colin Howell.


Howell (51) is already serving a life sentence for the murders, after confessing during police questioning in January 2009.


Stewart was joined in court by her current husband David and two children from her marriage to RUC officer Mr Buchanan, Lisa and Andrew.


Mr Buchanan’s brothers Victor, Raymond, Jackie and Gordon, and two sisters Valerie and Melva, sat facing her in the public gallery.


The former Sunday school teacher was told she would be granted continuing bail as long as she arrived on time in court.




Prosecuting barrister Ciaran Murphy QC told the court there was no doubt Stewart had engaged in a joint enterprise to kill Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan.


He said Stewart admitted that she let Howell into her house to kill her husband with his dead wife in the boot of his car during a series of police interviews.


She stood feet away knowing her husband was struggling for his last breaths,” he told the jury in his opening remarks.


She showed total and utter callous disregard to her husband and endorsed and encouraged exactly what Colin Howell was doing.”


Stewart also admitted cutting up and burning the hosepipe that was used to poison her husband, Mr Murphy said.


He said the mother-of-two told police she had encouraged her husband to take a temazepam tablet before Howell arrived to kill him.


The court heard that Stewart and Howell had resumed a sexual relationship just weeks after the funerals of their partners.




The detective who discovered the bodies of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan told the court he had doubted it was a suicide pact.  Green said he was suspicious of Colin Howell when he found the pair in the fume-filled car in Castlerock, but “couldn’t put his finger on” what had happened.


The court also heard from Margaret Topping, a friend of Lesley’s, who said Howell had once almost electrocuted his wife as she lay in the bath.


A six-page letter given by Howell to Stewart on the day of the funerals was read aloud by church member Derek McAuley.


In it, Howell told Stewart: “I have taken a mother from her children.  But God will provide for them.”


Investigating officer Jack Hutchinson also read police interviews in which both Howell and Stewart made domestic abuse claims against their former partners.




Stewart’s former boyfriend Trevor McAuley told the jury that Howell had injected his former lover with drugs to knock her out while they had sex.


He said Stewart had wanted to be unconscious during intercourse so she would not experience Christian guilt.


The jury heard from John Hansford, a pastor at Coleraine Baptist Church, and his wife Elizabeth, who broke the news of Mr Buchanan’s death to Stewart.  Mrs Hansford said she had found Howell’s reaction to the supposed suicide of his wife “somewhat callous”.




Killer dentist Howell took to the witness stand for the first time to give evidence against his former lover.  Howell, currently serving a life sentence in Maghaberry Prison, told the court that Stewart was a “willing accomplice” in his double murder plan. 


Her first reaction was ‘we’ll be caught’.  She was afraid of being caught,” he said.  She said if she was caught she would slit her wrists.”


Howell and Stewart “didn’t object to the principle” of killing their former spouses, and had taken tablets from him to give to her husband to sedate him.


When asked why he had confessed to the crimes after 18 years of fooling police, Howell said he wanted to tell the truth.




On his second day in the witness stand, Howell told the court he had masterminded the murder plot but was “trapped in the spider’s web” woven by Stewart.  The former dentist said his lover had seduced him from the start of their affair and the two were “waltzing in time”.


I may have been the lead partner in that dance but she was doing it in perfect harmony and willingly,” he said


Howell said he feared police would have caught him if they had carried out forensic tests on Mr Buchanan’s body.


He said histology tests on the deceased would have found that Stewart’s husband died four hours earlier than thought.


He also told the jury he was within hours of confessing to police more than 10 years ago after telling his second wife, Kyle.




Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Paul Ramsey QC, Howell revealed he got a £400,000 payment after the death of his wife.


Mr Ramsey said Howell’s dental practice was struggling financially at the time of the murders and claimed the payout kept it afloat.


The dentist denied killing his spouse for money, dismissing the allegation as “totally wrong”.


The killer quoted Bible passages while telling the court about sneaking out of his house to visit his lover while his wife was drugged with temazepam.


Howell also admitted that he had thought of murder as he held an electric cable over his wife in the bath.




On Howell’s final day in the witness stand, he told the court he had tried to manipulate the legal system to get a reduced plea of manslaughter.  The disgraced dentist said he knew he would receive a shorter sentence if he could trick psychiatrists into thinking the murder had been “spontaneous”.


Howell admitted that during his relationship with Stewart he had been “a monster and a killer” but said it was no longer the case.


Defence lawyer Paul Ramsey QC again pushed the idea that Howell had carried out the murders for financial gain.


It emerged that the former dentist had lost his savings after investing them in a scam to find Japan’s lost World War II gold.




The court heard the first of 15 taped interviews conducted by police with Hazel Stewart shortly after her arrest in January 2009.  The mother-of-two told detectives she was “easy prey” for Howell and feared he would kill her if she ended their relationship.


She said she had not known how he planned to kill her husband but knew something was up when he arrived at her house that night,  Stewart said she wanted to die after the murders, saying her “life died” that day. 


She told Sergeant Geoff Ferris that Howell had controlled her, threatening to claim parental rights over her baby if she did not have an abortion.




During the second day of taped interviews the court heard Stewart tell police how she tried to stop Howell killing her husband.  She said she had confronted him when he came to her house that night but he was “hyper” and “on a mission” to carry out his plan.


Stewart said she pleaded with her former lover not to poison her husband and later wished she had called police.


The court heard the former Sunday school teacher admit to destroying the pipe Howell used to kill Mr Buchanan.  She said Howell was not affected by the murders and persuaded her to go along with them by saying that her abortion proved she could kill.




In the last of her police interviews, Hazel Stewart admitted she could have stopped Howell killing her husband and his wife.  She said she knew about his plan to murder Trevor Buchanan and his wife Lesley and “let it happen”.


Stewart denied the money was a motive in going along with Howell’s idea, telling Police: “The biggest mistake of my life was meeting Colin Howell.”


The murder accused wept as she listened to the tapes, in which she apologised to Mr Buchanan’s family and her husband and children.


Stewart said she knew she would spend the rest of her life behind bars.


+       +       +









Stewart isn’t innocent but she’s no killer, court is told






Former Sunday school teacher Hazel Stewart is guilty of assisting a double killer, but she is not a murderer, a jury has been told.


Summing up the defence case on day 13 of her double murder trial, Paul Ramsey QC told Coleraine Crown Court yesterday that Stewart’s role was “subservient” to the role of her former lover, killer dentist Colin Howell.


She is not innocent.  She is guilty of assisting an offender, withholding information, perverting the course of justice, perjury.  But she hasn’t been charged with anything other than murder,” he said.  They (the prosecution) have gone for broke.  They have charged her with both murders.


Her role was wholly subservient to Colin Howell’s.  He did this for his own selfish ends,” said Mr Ramsey.


He said Stewart could not have been in a joint enterprise with Howell who regarded her as weak, vunerable and easy to control.


However, prosecution barrister Ciaran Murphy QC told the jury of nine men and three women that the mother-of-two from Macosquin, Coleraine, had agreed to carry out the murders of her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley so that she and Howell could continue their relationship.


He said she helped execute a plan to sacrifice the life of her husband and kill her then lover’s wife with carbon monoxide fumes.


If she had an inkling of humanity for her husband, she would have intervened, She chose not to,” he said.


Mr Murphy described the murder of her husband as a “gruesome extermination”.  He said: “It is a bit like employing a hit-man to kill someone, they do the dirty work, you don’t become involved.


That does not mean that you are not responsible.  You would not watch that being done to a dog in the street if you had any grain of humanity, never mind your husband of 10 years.”


Stewart, who turned 48 today, denies murdering her husband and Mrs Howell in May 1991.  Their bodies were discovered in a fume-filled car in a garage at Castlerock.  It was thought they had died in a suicide pact.


Howell is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the murders.  The original police investigation into the deaths were criticised by Mr Ramsey.


The police say this was nearly the perfect murder.  They have to say that because of the inadequacies of the first investigation.  It suits police to say this was a sophisticated and cunning plan.  We say it is daring, but hastily put together,” he said.  Mr Ramsey suggested that suspicions should have been raised about the deaths at the time because of a number of factors: (1) While this was supposedly a double suicide, both parties died alone at different ends of the car.  (2) Mrs Howell was surrounded by photographs but none were of her children and the photographs were facing away from her.


(3) The pipe was not tied tightly to the exhaust and the tailgate of the car was blocking fumes getting into the vehicle.


(4) The windows of the car were open.


(5) Mrs Howell’s friend raised with police about Howell’s financial affairs.


Stewart’s defence team are due to finish summing up their case today before the judge issues guidance and direction to the jury.  The jury will then be released to consider their verdict.



They were in it together, before, during and after





Hazel Stewart sighed deeply as Crown Prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC got to his feet in a final bid to convince the jury that the former Sunday school teacher was guilty of murdering her husband and former lover’s wife.


The mother-of-two, who turns 48 today, smiled weakly at her family who nodded supportively towards her in the dock.


During the trial there is one person you have not heard from.  That person was present when Trevor Buchanan was murdered.  That person made, discussed and we say agreed the plan for both murders with Colin Howell and that person is Hazel Stewart,” Mr Murphy told the jury.


She has not made a positive case or disputed the defence that we have heard.  That is her right.  But the reason she has not presented herself in a position to be asked questions is because, we say, she has not got any answers to suit her.  You are entitled to draw inferences from her failure to give evidence,” he added.


* Stewart’s actions 20 years ago “cried out” for an explanation

but she refused to take the witness stand.


* The double murder was a joint enterprise. 

Two deaths, two spouses, one purpose - to get together.”


* Stewart failed to act to stop Howell. 

You cannot close your eyes to something like this, you cannot close your eyes and your ears.”


Mr Murphy said that the murders of Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell were a joint enterprise between Steward and Howell.


He added: “It is a plan they were in together.  The purpose was that each of them rid themselves of their respective spouses in order that they be together.


Under that plan Hazel Stewart agreed to the death of Lesley Howell.  She encouraged it by entering into the plan.  She facilitated her husband’s death by ensuring the prerequisite of the plan and did nothing as  her husband was exterminated by her lover Colin Howell.  Her children were just feet away.  Were they in it together?  The answer we say is yes.”


Reminding the jury about Howell’s evidence to the court Mr Murphy said the killer dentist provided his version of events “warts and all”.


He is a killer, a nasty piece of work, but remember, he was Hazel Stewart’s nasty piece of work at that time.  He made a confession and was punished for it,” he added.


He described Howell and Stewart’s relationship as a “toxic partnership, destined to destroy the lives of others.”


She entered into the plan.  Lesley Howell’s murder would not have brought the ultimate end that was required.  She had to put up for execution her own husband.  She needed them both to die for her to be with her monstrous lover.  We say she was up to her neck in this from day one,” Mr Murphy told the court.


He added: “This plan took time.  It was formulated with time for reflection.  There was time for Hazel Stewart to extricate herself from the plan, to stop it happening.  What did she do?  Nothing.  She wanted Lesley dead.  She wanted Trevor dead.


She knew her husband was going to be gassed in a gruesome extermination in their bedroom.  If you had any grain of humanity you would not do that to a dog in the street, never mind your husband.  She heard the struggle.  If she has any inkling of humanity she would have intervened.


To suggest she was not involved in this is a nonsense.


It was a joint enterprise.  Two deaths, two spouses, one purpose - to be together.


They may have been the perfect murders but it turns out they weren’t because Howell confessed.  She cannot defend her actions because there is no defence.  They were in it together, before, during and after.”



Colin Howell did this for his own selfish ends





Paul Ramsey QC swept his left arm towards the dock and pointed towards Hazel Stewart.


The prosecution has to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Hazel Stewart is guilty.  The flip side of that is that the accused doesn’t have to prove anything.  She is innocent until proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt,” he said.


He added: “(Howell) was chomping at the bit to give evidence.  He gave evidence for his own agenda.  He practically vaulted into the witness box.


She (Stewart) is not innocent.  She is guilty of assisting an offender, withholding information, perverting the course of justice, perjury.  But she hasn’t been charged with anything other than murder.  They (the prosecution) have gone for broke.  They have charged her with both murders.  Her role was wholly subservient to Colin Howell’s.  He did this for his own selfish ends.”


Asking how a wife could permit a man to enter her home to murder her husband, Mr Ramsey said: “But what if the man was Colin Howell?  The Colin Howell we have heard about in the case?


She said herself throughout interview: ‘I allowed it to happen.  He controlled me.’”


Mr Ramsey added: “Is Colin Howell a controlling person?  He told police he had a controlling influence in all his relationships.  He told police if he lost control the relationship would end.  He is controlling and domineering, particularly if he senses vulnerability.


He has tried to influence clergymen, his lover, doctors, police, wives and he is now trying to influence the court.  It is fairly straightforward.  He is controlling.”


He told the jury that this was far from being the perfect crime.


The police say this was nearly the perfect murder.  They have to say that because of the inadequacies of the first investigation.  It suits police to say this was a sophisticated and cunning plan.  We say it was daring, but hastily put together.


Here’s the big problem - Andrew and Lisa (Stewart’s children).  They weren’t infants.  They were nine and ten at the time.  Do you seriously think if this plan was up and running there would not have been some arrangements discussed for Andrew and Lisa?  This is a careful intelligent man who thinks of everything.”


He added “It is said they killed their partners so they could be together.  We say there was a different motive.  Colin Howell was in financial difficulties, he was building a new surgery, he borrowed money.


Then on May 7, Lesley’s father dies suddenly.  Now she has her father’s money.  She told (her friend) Margaret Topping the money had been left for her and the children.  Here was a woman who was independent.  She maybe sees a future away from Colin Howell.  Her behaviour was alarming him.  She was leading a separate life.



* Stewart guilty of withholding information, and perverting the course of justice - but not guilty of murder.


* Crown case is full of inconsistencies and uncertainties.  The evidence against her has become confusedthat it is not clear what the prosecution case is.”


* She was wholly subservient to Colin Howell.  He completely controlled her.  He devised.  He planned.  He carried out these murders for his own selfish ends.”



There was a problem for Howell.  Two sudden deaths, 12 days apart, his father-in-law and then his wife.  He is the sole beneficiary.  The police would come knocking.


That is when he had the eureka moment.  What if she died in a suicide pact?


That would take the spotlight away from him.  That was Trevor’s fate sealed.”


+       +       +






+       +       +










The cries of her children broke the silence

as jury delivered their verdict of guilty






A guttural, heartbreaking moan shattered the silence as the word “guilty” hung uneasily in the air.  Hazel Stewart watched helplessly from the dock as an anguished cry escaped from her only son Andrew who fell forward in his chair with his hands clasped to his face, sobbing painfully.


Distraught, her daughter Lisa began crying out: “Mummy, mummy, no.  It’s not fair.  That’s not fair.  It’s wrong.  It’s wrong.”


Stewart began to cry as she looked towards her children and her distraught husband David and mouthed the words: “It’s okay.  It will be okay.”


Lisa turned several times towards the jury members as if to plead with them to change their minds.


Roughly wiping tears from his face, David put his arms around Lisa to try and comfort her.


There were gasps around the courtroom as members of Stewart’s and her victims’ families choked back sobs.


The jury panel were visibly upset by the scenes of despair within the court.  Some appeared to be trying not to cry.


They had taken just over two hours to reach their decision about Stewart’s involvement in the murder of her husband Trevor Buchanan and her ex-lover Colin Howell’s wife Lesley.


The tension was almost razor sharp as the court waited for the jury to return and deliver their verdict.  For the first time throughout the trial not even a whisper broke the silence.


Stewart was breathing heavily, almost hyperventilating, as the jury walked in.  She watched them carefully, desperate for some sign as to what her fate was to be.


It became too much for her husband who began to cry as he looked towards her in the dock.


The foreman of the jury did not look at her as he told the court that a unanimous verdict of guilty on both counts of murder had been reached.


Judge Justice Hart turned towards Stewart and said sharply: “Stand up.”


Momentarily, she seemed unsteady as she rose to her feet.


You have been convicted of two murders and the only punishment the court can hand down is life imprisonment,” he told her.  The judge then told prison staff: “Take her away.”


As she was taken shakily from the dock Stewart looked towards her two children and her husband and slightly nodded.


They were inconsolable as she was led away by prison guards.


Their cries could be heard outside the courtroom after everybody else had left.


Prison staff permitted her two children and her husband to meet with her privately and say their goodbyes before she was taken to the woman’s prison at Hydebank.


Outside, members of the public crowded round the courthouse hoping to catch a glimpse of Stewart as she was taken away in a prison van.


Several police officers had to escort Stewart’s children and husband through the crowds to their car as they left the court.  Looking shattered, the three held on tightly to each other.


They drove out of the car park and past the front of the court.  Moments later, the prison van drove out of the gate.  Stewart sat inside, shielding her face.




Pieces of the jigsaw still missing as killer starts life behind bars



* Detectives may quiz Howell’


* Original police probe under scrutiny


* Bid to recover £130,000 inheritance



Hazel Stewart spent her first night behind bars last night after being found guilty of double murder - but her silence in court has left many questions about the case unsolved.


Stewart’s conviction for the 1991 murder of her husband Trevor Buchanan and her former lover’s wife Lesley Howell brought an end to one of the most dramatic trials in Northern Ireland’s legal history.


Her distraught son, daughter and husband wept as she was told yesterday that she will serve a life sentence, the length of which will be determined following pre-sentence reports.


The 48-year-old’s defence team are considering launching an appeal against the verdict, which took the jury just over two hours to reach


As Stewart failed to give evidence in her defence during her trial her character remains a mystery, and a number of questions about the case remain unanswered:


* What made her enter into a murder plot with Howell?


* Why did she not do anything to stop the murders?


*Did she deliberately drug her husband?


* Would she have ever confessed?


Questions are also mounting over the original police investigation and how detectives failed to spot that Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell had been murdered.


It has emerged that police are considering flying to the US to question Colin Howell’s second wife Kyle after it was alleged in court that he had told her about the murders in 1998.  Kyle Jorgensen, who has divorced Howell, is now living in Florida.


Police are to study transcripts of Howell’s evidence to the court during the trial, when he said he had told Kyle that he had murdered his wife and Trevor Buchanan several years before confessing to police.


A file has been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service.


Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray, who headed up the double murder investigation following Howell’s confession in 2009, said: “Obviously we are interested in some of the material which came out in court.”


A confiscation order is to be made to the court for the money that Stewart received following her husband’s death.


She received a total of £130,000 in benefits, partly from an insurance company with whom she had an endowment policy and the rest from a police pension fund which she received up until the time she married David Stewart five years ago.


Howell’s children have spoken of their relief of finding that their mother had not in fact committed suicide.


Lauren, who was four at the time of the murders, said: “Such a significant part of my growing up was feeling that my mum had left me and I could not understand because I remembered that she loved us, it was so hard to accept.


There was a real feeling of abandonment.  When I found out that (suicide) did not happen, I felt relief and sadness that that had happened to her.”


Daniel, who was two at the time of his mother’s death, said: “I was always dealing with the fact she killed herself on my second birthday so she did not want to be around us.  It put the idea in mind that our mother had abandoned us.”


Trevor Buchanan’s family said that while there was “immense satisfaction” that justice has been done, there is no cause for celebration”.


Mr Buchanan’s sister Valerie said when the family heard Trevor had died they were filled with “shock and devastation”.


I will never forget what it did to my parents.  We visited Trevor in the funeral parlour and dad just dived for the coffin.  He picked him up and said ‘why did you do it?  Why didn’t you come to me?’  I’ll never forget those words,” she said.


Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray said the murders were premeditated, and were “particularly chilling” by the proximity of the killers’ children to the murder scenes.  He added that Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell were “two young people with their whole lives ahead of them” and their lives were cut short in a very “calculated, cold murder”.


The thing that really strikes me about the last three to four weeks in court is I don’t think anybody who sat in court, be it all the way through it or partially, could have missed the sheer emotional wreckage that this has left behind across all those families.


I don’t think they have really felt such tension and emotion in a court as on the deliverance of the verdict and it shows how deeply this has scarred absolutely everybody that is involved,” he daid.




Attractive, well-dressed, seemingly loving … but still an enigma






For 15 days her every move, facial expression or hand gesture was scrutinised.


But this attractive, well-dressed woman - who has so fascinated the public that many would stand outside the courthouse hoping to catch a glimpse of her - remains an enigma..


As I watched her in court each day she appeared to be a caring mother and devoted wife, much loved my her family whose daily support throughout the trial never once wavered.


Her first thoughts were for her distraught son and daughter as she was jailed yesterday.


Being led from the court she turned to them and mouthed the words: “It will be okay.”


Although clearly shaken, this was a much stronger woman than the one who, during her first court appearances, cowered in the public gallery, hiding under the black hood of her duffle coat, barely raising her eyes from the floor.


For almost four weeks the horrible details of how she had stood by and let Colin Howell murder her husband and his wife, and the most intimate aspects of their sexual relationship were repeatedly regurgitated before the family and strangers.  But never once saw her blush.


Each day as she walked into the dock she seemed to withdraw into herself, as though she was watching proceedings but was not really listening.  This appears to be the same coping mechanism she adopted on the night of the murders when she held her hands over her ears because she did not want to hear as Howell murdered her husband.


Stewart never took to the stand in her own defence, so it was difficult to build up a true picture of the shy-looking woman who told police she had been manipulated by Howell.


But the cold facts of this case speak differently.  They show her to have been a woman so callously capable of entering into a double murder plot to get rid of her husband and lover’s wife.


Perhaps the only people who will ever know the real Hazel Stewart are her and her nemesis, Colin Howell.




Justice doesn’t ease pain of losing a loving mother



Lesley Howell’s daughter Lauren bit her lip as she fought back tears while describing her family’s heartbreak over the loss of their mother.


In a soft but clear voice, Lauren spoke of how she and her brother Dan and Jonny were comforted that “those involved in Lesley’s and Trevor’s murders have finally been brought to justice”.


Lauren, Dan and Jonny, along with their deceased brother Matthew, were in the house that night in May 1991 when their father Colin murdered their mother.


Colin Howell locked the children in their bedrooms while he gassed their mother before putting her body in the back of the family car and driving to the Buchanan’s house to murder RUC Constable Trevor.


For almost two decades he let his children believe that their mother had taken her own life in a suicide pact with Mr Buchanan.


In the years after the murders the children would have spent hours on end with their father, his accomplice Stewart and her two children.


Friday nights were spent in Stewart’s house watching videos and eating sweets.


Summer days after school were spent at the beach together, and both families even spent a short holiday together in Newcastle, Co Down.


The children became friends and part of that friendship even remains today.  Lauren and Stewart’s daughter Lisa were seen smiling and chatting during the trial.


Relieved to finally have justice for their mother, Mrs Howell’s children still feel a heavy sadness over how she was taken from them.


We mourn our mother Lesley and are pained at the time and the memories that we have been so denied,” Lauren said as she stood outside the court with her mother’s aunt Alice Perry and her brother Chris Clarke.


We rejoice in the contribution our mum made to our lives in the short time we had together.  We know her to have been a loving, devoted mother and we bitterly regret the horrible way in which she has been taken from us.


Our thoughts at this time are also with the Buchanan family, who share our loss,” she said.


Mrs Howell’s brother Chris said he hoped these words reflect the feelings of Lesley’s eldest son Matthew “who loved her dearly”.


Matthew died in a tragic accident several years ago.  He died still believing his mother had taken her own life.




From a life of luxury to the women’s wing in prison





Hazel Stewart had become used to the finer things in life.  She lived in a luxury house near Coleraine and was comfortable in her middle-class surroundings.


Ash House, the women’s wing at Hydebank Prison which will become Hazel Stewart’s new home, is a million miles away from that life.


Opened in 2004, it has a capacity for at least 56 prisoners but usually houses under 50 women in surroundings which include in-cell sanitation and shower facilities.


Among those held in the two-story complex inside the Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre are the notorious killers Jacqueline Crymble and Julie McGinley, both of whom, like Stewart, were convicted of murdering their husbands.


It is alongside these callous killers that Stewart will spend the next years of her life, unless she successfully appeals her convictions.


Prison Service sources say that Stewart will be subjected to round-the-clock observation because of concerns about her mental state and fears she may attempt to self harm.


That means that for the next three to six months, a prison officer will look in on her through a spy hole every 15 minutes when she is confined to her cell.


The culture shock for the former Sunday school teacher will be enormous despite the humane regime at Ash House.


Four wings at the prison each contain 14 cells and each wing contains a recreation room and a kitchen where microwave ovens and refrigerators are located.


The unit has a six-bed hospital for the women prisoners but no psychiatric facility for vunerable inmates.


In its report into Ash House published in 2007, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said that women prisoners continued to suffer verbal abuse from young male inmates at Hydebank Wood while being transported to and from court hearings.


That may not be a problem Stewart is likely to encounter, but if she does decide to attend the Sunday religious services held within Hydebank Wood, then she may well run the gauntlet of leering and sexually explicit remarks which young men detained there are inclined to express when they glimpse attractive women.


Stewart may find the taunts thrown her way inside Hydebank a relentless, insufferable cross she cannot bear.




We regret thy had to wait 20 years


Police say sorry for missing vital clues and vow lessons will be learned



Police last night apologised for missing the fact that Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan had been murdered when their bodies were discovered in 1991.


The officer in charge of the new investigation into their murders, PSNI Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said he regretted it had taken so long for justice.


When Mrs Howell and Mr Buchanan’s bodies were found in the fume-filled car in a garage at Castlerock, it was initially thought they had died in a suicide pact.


However, investigating officers missed a number of vital clues:


* While this was supposedly a double suicide, both parties died alone at different ends of the car.


* Mrs Howell, a devoted mother, was surrounded by family photographs, but none were of her children and the photographs were facing away from her.


* The pipe that supposedly filled the car with fumes was not tied tightly to the exhaust, and the tailgate of the car was blocking fumes getting into the vehicle.


* The windows of the car were open.


*Mr Buchanan’s leg was outside the car.


* Mrs Howell’s friend Margaret Topping raised concerns with police about Howell’s financial affairs and the fact that Lesley had received a substantial sum of money from her father, who had died 12 days previously.


* Mrs Topping also told police about an incident shortly before the murders when Mrs Howell said she had been electrocuted in the bath after Howell had “accidentally” dropped a cable into the water.


* Mrs Topping and RUC Constable David Green told a jury at Stewart’s murder trial that they had raised their suspicions about the deaths with police at the time.



However, the investigating officer at the time, Detective Jack Hutchinson, told the trial jury that no concerns had been raised with him about any potential criminal wrongdoing in the case.


The police Ombudsman is now investigating the original police inquiry after Mr Buchanan’s family lodged a complaint.


Superintendent Murray said that hindsight was always crystal clear, but that he regretted the delay in the case.


1991 was a very different place in Northern Ireland.  There were 102 terrorist murders alone and CID were a lot more stretched than they are at the minute.  They did not have so many assets available to them than they would have now,” he said.


However, the family have made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman and I look to the Ombudsman now to investigate it and come back to us.  If there are lessons to be learned, we will learn them.


Things have moved on a great deal in 20 years and we regret they had to wait 20 years.”


The truth of the murders only became known when Howell confessed to police in January 2009.




The Close-knit Christian community with difficult questions left to answer






It was difficult to keep secrets in Coleraine Baptist Church, and it didn’t take long for the clandestine relationship between two of its members to be discovered.


Now, however, questions are being raised precisely how much was known, or at least suspected, about Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart within its close knit religious family.


The church was central to the trial.  At least nine of the fourteen prosecution witnesses had direct links to it, including elders and the former pastor John Hansford.


A member of the church discovered the affair between Howell and Stewart when he spotted them in a car at Castle Road Forest Park in Coleraine.


Dr Allan Topping told the trial he was astonished to learn Howell continued the affair after the deaths of his wife and Mr Buchanan


He also told the court “Everyone did not believe it was a suicide.”


Sunday school teacher Jim Flanagan, an elder at the church, recalled how Howell rang him early on the morning after the crimes and told him his wife was missing.


He was asked to check the house in Castlerock owned by Mrs Howell’s late father, and was accompanied by another elder, off-duty policeman David Green, who made the grim discovery.


Mr Flanagan spoke to Howell shortly afterwards, and said: “There was no overwhelming sadness as one might have expected.”


And Mr Green told the jury he was suspicious that Howell may have been involved and alerted three detectives who were investigating the case.


Mr Hansford provided relationship counselling to both couples when the affair was discovered.


He was the first to see Howell after the news that his wife’s body had been found, and recalled how he showed little emotion.


I felt that he was holding something back,” he recalled.


The pastor’s wife, Elizabeth, broke the news to Stewart about her husband’s death.


She also recalled a puzzling reaction from Stewart, adding: “She seemed motionless, that’s probably the best way to put it.”


Another church member, Derek McAuley, who was a friend of Mr Buchanan and Howell, was asked by the dentist to pass on a letter to Stewart on the day of funerals imploring her to stay with him.


He steamed open the letter and photocopied it.


I opened the letter because I felt that, even after all what happened, that this guy was still pursuing Hazel,” Mr McAuley told the trial.


Lesley Clyde, also a church member and police colleague of Mr Buchanan, recalled how Trevor had confided in him that his wife was having an affair with Howell.


Mr Buchanan, he said, had Christian beliefs which meant “once together, together forever”.  He did not believe in separation or divorce.


Graham Stirling was a senior member of Barn fellowship Church, which Howell joined having left Coleraine Baptist following his wife’s death.


He recalled Howell bragging about fooling police for over 18 years, and boasting about the “clever” way he poisoned the pair.


+       +       +










* Stewart and Crymble: united in notoriety


* The missed clues: no-one will face sanctions


*Church’s role: the congregation closes ranks




Stewart at ‘peace with God’ as her cell door slams shut





Fears were growing last night over the health of Hazel Stewart after she was heard saying that she had made her “peace with God”.


Prison sources have raised fears over how the double killer will adapt to life within Hydebank jail where she is beginning a life sentence for the murders of her husband Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, her former lover’s wife.


A jury at Coleraine Crown Court took less than two hours to decide that the former Sunday school teacher had joined with Colin Howell in a murder plot which has horrified people across Northern Ireland.


Stewart is set to learn next week how long she must spend in prison.  Facing the reality of living 10 to 20 years of her life within the female wing of Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre will have hit Hazel Stewart hard yesterday.


Coping with “first day blues”; as some prison officers refer to it, will have taken its toll on the once buoyant policeman’s wife who wore designer label clothes and carried matching bags.


The once sharply-dressed double killer will know full well the limitations placed on her daily life in Ash House by the time she appears for sentence in Belfast.


She may be able to fit in a hairdressing appointment with the visiting Ash House stylist before she appears at Belfast Crown Court, but beyond that the comfortable, privileged life she knew at Ballystrone Road in Macosquin has gone, perhaps forever.


Hazel Stewart became the seventh life sentence prisoner to join the Ash House cast on Wednesday evening, devastated by the swift verdict reached by the nine-man and three-woman jury that convicted her.


Custody staff reported hearing her mutter she had “made her peace with God”; increasing concerns that she is in an extremely vunerable mental state which will require constant monitoring for the foreseeable future.


Whether fellow inmates and murderers Julie McGinley and Jacqueline Crymble give her the peace and space to come to terms with the reality of her new situation remains to be seen, but she will not be able to shut them out of her life, or even her cell, which she cannot lock.


Seeing who can make a new inmate cry first is one of the ‘contests’ staged in both male and female sections of prisons, and Ash House is no exception.


Yesterday morning Hazel Stewart will have been roused around 7.45am and invited to come for breakfast, where she would have learned who she will rub shoulders with every day in her new home.


She will also have had a meeting with her class officer and her vocational training instructor.  That will have been particularly tough because she spent no time on remand to prepare her for jail.


The wearing of a wristwatch will be permitted and perhaps a tiny amount of jewellery, like a wedding ring, provided they could not be used to inflict injury on other prisoners or staff, or used to cause self-harm.


She will have been given a menu list on Wednesday night to choose meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday.  She will also have been given a prison serial number beginning with the letter A, which prison staff say denotes a life sentence prisoner.


Visit application forms will also have been provided to allow her to send out visit passes to her loved-ones for the next four weeks.


She will also have been given prison-headed notepaper to write letters on, but warned that every word she writes will be scrutinised and letters returned to her if they contain any derogatory comments about anyone or any other improper scribbling.


A prison source told the Belfast Telegraph: “The first 48 hours are the most difficult for any first-timer, especially a life sentence prisoner who has never even contemplated being in this type of environment.  The culture shock is beyond huge.


There is depression and despair in those first 48 hours which can lead people to try to take their own lives so every procedure will be followed to ensure that doesn’t happen.


The Governor will have explained to Hazel Stewart on Wednesday night the rules of Ash House and the punishments for breaching those rules and will have reminded her formally that she has been convicted of taking other people’s lives and is a life sentence prisoner.


That little talk from the Governor can have an impact as salutary as the jury’s verdict.”


Hazel Stewart has already become the victim of prison humour.  Prison officers are texting each other with jokes about her.  One text reads: “In one day Hazel Stewart has swapped a BMW 5 series for a white van, a detached house for a 6 by 10 room and red wine for a pint of milk but at least the gym membership is free.”


Another text reads: “I am just laughing at the idea of Hazel Stewart queuing up to use the toaster in the morning.  I hear she has expensive tastes, well she should fit right in as it costs £96,000 to live in Ash House per person per year”.




Their lives and personalities could not have been any more different, but now these two husband killers will share life on a jail wing


Stewart’s character remains a mystery.  The fact she never took to the stand in her own defence makes it hard to get underneath her public persona






They are both notorious killer wives who plotted with their lovers to murder their husbands.


Their cruel actions have left their children without fathers and a trail of destroyed lives.


But while the case of Hazel Stewart evoked massive public intrigue, the case of Jacqueline Crymble elicited almost venomous vilification.


On the surface the characters of the two women could not be more different.


Stewart is elegant and reserved and was always immaculately dressed.  She captivated the public.


Crymble is brash and foul-mouthed and was always unkempt.  The public hated her.


In another world their paths would probably never have crossed.  Now they are destined to live out the best part of their lives behind bars together.


Stewart’s character remains a mystery.  The fact she never took to the stand in her own defence makes it hard to get underneath her public persona.


Every day in court the demurely dressed 48-year-old would almost visibly shrink into the background.


Her discreet smiles and nods to her family painted the picture of a caring mother and loving wife.


But the cold facts of her case also showed her to be a callous killer who entered into a plot with her lover Colin Howell to murder her husband Trevor Buchanan and Howell’s wife Lesley.


Howell was the mastermind behind the plot; he carried out the murders and disposed of the bodies.


But, even though she was not in the house when Mrs Howell was killed, and she sat in another room with her hands over her ears as her husband was being gassed, she had encouraged Howell and facilitated the murders.


In keeping with her demeanour throughout the trial Stewart kept silent when convicted.  Although clearly upset she turned to her husband and children and told them it would be ok.


She had left behind a pampered life with a beautiful home, expensive shopping trips, family nights out and holidays abroad.


In fact, the life that Stewart had built for herself was the one that Crymble had craved.


It was greed that motivated Crymble to murder her husband Paul.  She wanted the fancy house and the flash cars and so she plotted to murder her husband Paul for his insurance money.


She masterminded the murder and convinced her lover Paul Ferguson to join in.


Unlike Stewart, who cowered away from the physical act of murder, Crymble viciously kicked her husband as he lay helpless on the floor and then held a plastic bag over his head until he died.


Far from shrinking into the background during her trial, Crymble thrived on putting on a show for her audience.  She would smile and whisper to her co-accused while playing flirtatiously with her hair.


She happily took the stand in her own defence, one moment playing the grieving wife crying floods of crocodile tears, the next losing her temper and shouting at the prosecution.


She refused to dress modestly, once raising eyebrows when she took to the stand dressed head to toe in virgin white.


Although opposites in many ways, both these women craved excitement in their lives and in their pursuit of that excitement they became merciless killers.


Crymble is hard, brash, manipulative and street-wise.


Stewart, in her own words, is soft, weak and easily controlled.


But there was something about Stewart’s demeanour on the day she was convicted.


It was the way she held her composure in the dock when she heard the word “guilty”.


This is a woman that may look meek, but is much stronger on the inside.


This is the woman who for two decades was able to live with a horrible secret without cracking once.





The partners of two loversfound gassed to

death in a car with the windows open

yet the police didn’t suspect a thing. Now

it emerges no-one will be called to

account for the missed clues






No police officer will face any sanction for the failed RUC investigation into the deaths of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell.


As they have since retired, action cannot be taken against the officers who missed the fact that the father-of-two and mother-of-four had been murdered.


It is understood the findings of a Police Ombudsman investigation into the failed 1991 probe could be raised within weeks.


A spokesman for the Ombudsman said their investigation is well advanced.


We have also been monitoring the trial to identify any additional issues and once we have considered these issues we will be in a position to finalise our report,” he added.


However, the Ombudsman will not be able to make any disciplinary recommendations as those involved are no longer serving police officers.


Police closed the original investigation - led by Detective inspector Jack Hutchinson - into the sudden deaths of Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell saying they died in a suicide pact.


Their bodies were discovered in a car parked in a garage in Castlerock.  Killer dentist Colin Howell had gassed his wife and Hazel Stewart’s husband as he slept at home and then dumped their bodies in his car before attaching a hose to the car exhaust and staging a suicide scene.


Criticism of the original police investigation was raised earlier this week during Stewart’s trial.


Her defence barrister described the investigation as “inadequate” and said a number of vital clues that should have raised suspicion had been missed.


Serious questions are continuing to mount over how such mistakes could have been made.


Factors which should have raised suspicion at the time include:


[1] It was known that the pair’s spouses had been having an affair but this failed to raise suspicions.


[2] While this was supposedly a double suicide pact, the victims did not die together.  Mrs Howell was found in the boot of the car and Mr Buchanan in the driver’s seat.


[3] Mrs Howell, a devoted mother who adored her children, was surrounded by photographs, but none were of her children.


[4] The hose attached to the exhaust was loose and had become blocked by the tailgate of the car, preventing any fumes getting into the vehicle.


[5] Mr. Buchanan’s leg was outside of the car and he had a split lip.


[6] Car windows were open.


[7] Suspicions about the deaths, a friend of Mrs Howell, Margaret Topping, told police at the time of a conversation she had with the deceased a few days earlier when she confided in her that Howell had tried to electrocute her in the bath with an electric cable.


[8] Mrs Topping also raised concerns with police about Howell’s financial affairs.  She advised them that Mrs Howell was to inherit a generous sum of cash from her late father which she wanted to keep away from Howell.  Following her death Howell, who was on the verge of bankruptcy, had become the sole beneficiary.


[9] No police investigation was carried out into his financial affairs.


[10] Constable David Green, who discovered the bodies but was not involved in the investigation, also raised suspicions about the deaths.  The investigating officer at the time, Detective Jack Hutchinson, told Stewart’s trial, however, that nobody had raised any concerns about the deaths with him.


He said that no-one had made any “categoric insinuations of criminal complicity”.


[12] Howell himself said that just a few months after the murders he feared the game was up when Detective Hutchinson said to him: “It would need to be a perfect murder to get away with something like that.”


[13] Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said he has raised the matter with the PSNI and said there are serious questions to be answered.


This needs a very full, frank and proper investigation.  Very serious questions need to be answered for the Howell and Buchanan families,” he said.


Mr Spratt added: “It is incumbent of the police service and the Ombudsman to carry out this investigation as quickly as possible.


I have very serious concerns about it.


I will be meeting with the Buchanan family within the coming days to discuss this and will be asking questions at the Policing Board in due course.”




Church congregation draws a veil of silence over killings


By Lesley-Anne Henry



Twenty years ago they stayed silent about the steamy affair between Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart.  And yesterday members of Coleraine Baptist Church closed ranks again when asked about their handling of the tragedy.


In spite of giving evidence during Stewart’s trial, it seems many church members are keen to forget the murders and move on.


While some locals believe the church members have serious questions to answer after court revelations about secret letters, counselling sessions and confessions, its members seem reluctant to resurrect the past.


Just as they did two decades ago, they want to keep at bay any possibility that there may have been failings on their part.


Former schoolteacher and Coleraine Baptist Church elder Jim Flanagan - a prosecution witness - said he did not believe the church’s reputation had been damaged.


I do not think that the church is coming out looking bad at all,” he told the Belfast Telegraph at his home in Coleraine yesterday.  I have nothing more to say on the matter”.


Howell had telephoned Mr Flanagan early on Sunday morning after the crimes and told him his wife was missing.


Mr Flanagan and former RUC man David Green discovered the two bodies at The Twelve Apostles cottages in Castlerock a number of hours after that phone call.


Mr Green, who now runs an art gallery in Coleraine, was also reluctant to talk about the events of that night in May 1991.


I have left it behind a long time ago,” he said.  I do not want to say anything more about it.”


In court, Mr Green said he passed on concerns about the apparent suicides to investigating officers.  However, he declined yesterday to be drawn on the original police investigation.


On the day of his wife’s funeral, Howell asked church member Derek McAuley to give a letter to Stewart, imploring her to stay with him.


Mr McAuley steamed the letter open, photocopied it and kept a copy.  In court he said he had done so because he felt Howell was still pursuing Hazel.


When asked by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday if he felt the church had questions to answer, Mr McAuley replied: “It’s not a bad question.  You should maybe ask Pastor Hansford.


We wanted the best for them.  But, I suppose the world is littered with people trying their best.”


Pastor John Hansford, who now lives in Spain, counselled the Buchanans and Howells after finding out about the affair.


He said: “I suppose she (Hazel) has a sense if dissatisfaction in her life.  It was not going where she wanted it to go.


He (Trevor) struggled with it all and felt desperately wounded and alone.”


Meanwhile, Margaret and Dr Alan Topping, who were close friends of the Howells, also declined to comment on the church’s handling of events.


At the couple’s home in Coleraine yesterday, Dr Topping said they had said all they wanted to in court.


However, on a BBC Spotlight programme, aired just hours after Stewart’s conviction, Mrs Topping who had befriended Lesley Howell, said she had told police Howell dropped an electric cable into his wife’s bath.


Colin Howell had also confided about his infidelity to Willie Patterson of The Barn Fellowship - a north Antrim-based Christian organisation Howell had set up after being expelled from the Baptist Church in Coleraine.


Mr Patterson was also reluctant to speak when approached by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.


Dressed in a purple jumper and trousers he said: “I am not prepared to say anything more.  I have given my evidence and I am not prepared to say anything else.”










*       *       *



























For the forgiveness of sins, and for life as a forgiven man in the camp neither perfection of form, nor washing at the gate of the tabernacle, nor special clothing, were demanded: but for access to God and for priestly service all these were as indispensable as the atoning blood.  Imputed righteousness settles completely and for ever the judical standing of the believer as justified before the law of God; but practical righteousness must be added in order to secure many of the mighty privileges which become possible to the justified.  Let him that hath ears here this also, for loss and shame must be his at last who has been content to remain deformed and imperfect in moral state, or is found to have neglected the washing, and so to be unfit to wear the noble clothing required for access to the throne of glory.  Such neglect of present grace not only causes the loss of heart access to God, as the careless believer surely knows, but will assure the forfeiture of much that grace would have granted in the future.



When Christians are warned that, if they walk in an evil way, theyshall not inherit the kingdom of Godthe meaning is equally clear that they shall forfeit sovereignty in the kingdom.



This solemn warning is stated three times in plain words (1 Cor. 6: 7-11; Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5).  The first of these passages is addressed to persons who had been blessedly saved from gross sins and been justified and sanctified.  The second passage shows that this special warning was a standing feature of Paul’s ministry: of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you,’ i.e., while he had been among them.  The Ephesian passage is addressed to such as had been sons of disobedience but had been saved by grace through faith (2: 1-10).  Had they remained sons of disobedience the wrath of God must have been their portion for gross wickedness; but being among the saved this cannot be, yet should they resume that evil life they will be disinherited.  This agrees with the warning Christ gave from heaven that it is the conquerors in His battles, not the defeated, who will be crowned;  enthroned, and bear the sceptre of authority (Rev. 2: 10; 3: 21; 2: 26, 27).”


- Quoted from two separate writings by G. H. LANG.





Gal. 5: 19.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [adultery,*] fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.  20. Idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, emulations, passionateness,

party-strifes, discords, parties.  21.  Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and the

like to these; of which I give you warning beforehand, as I also told you before,

that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”


* The word is omitted by some critics.



These offences would exclude from the kingdom.  Will any say that believers cannot be guilty of them?  Will any deny that they are actually manifested in our own day? that they sprung up by nature, and need the taming down of the flesh to keep them under?  And if [regenerate] believers can be guilty of them, and are actually guilty, will any say that the warning of exclusion from the [millennial] kingdom does not refer to them?  If they were not to apply to them, what means the apostle’s solemn and repeated warning?  Why did he tell them of it at his first preaching? and when writing renew the caution?  If it referred only to [the unregenerate and] the ungodly, to what purpose was it, so earnestly to press it on the attention of the renewed?  If the caution be universal, that all doers of the things described in this list will be excluded from the kingdom: and if it be certain too, that some saints are guilty of these things, then it is certain too, that some saints will be excluded from the kingdom. …”


For he that soweth into his own flesh, shall out of the flesh reap corruption: but

he that soweth unto the Spirit shall out of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’


There is a way of explaining this verse, which shall remove all its force and pressure.  You may make the first half of threat, to render to the unbeliever alone; and the second half of promise, to relate to the justified [by faith] alone.  Just so the prophecies used to be expounded.  All the promises belong to the Church; all the threats to the Jews.’  Both modes of exposition are, I suppose, equally unfair.  A general truth is here propounded; and as such, it affects the believer and unbeliever alike.  Whoever is embraced by its terms will share in its results, whether of good or evil.  The sower to the flesh or to the Spirit, whoever he may be is the party pointed out.



We shall best see its meaning by comparing this verse with some of the preceding chapter.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditious, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God:’ Gal. 5: 19-21.  I put together, then, these two assertions, and thereby I learn, that the reaping corruption from, sowing to the flesh is the same as being shut out of the millennial kingdom.  When the Lord adjudges to the sowers unto the Spirit the glory of the first resurrection, to these sowers to the flesh He will award the sentence, - that their bodies still remain under the power of death [for a further 1,000 years].  Out of the flesh they shall reap corruption.”  And so it is written again: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall [are about to] die: but if ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live:’ Rom. 8: 13.  What death is this?  Not the present death, which is experienced by multitudes of saints; but a future one, to be received at Christ’s appearing.  What is the life that is to be received?  Not spiritual life; for this is spoken to believers already possessed of that.  Not natural life: for the best of saints still die.  Both the death and the life, then, look onward to the future [millennial] day.  As the Saviour Himself puts it from another point of view, more than once, - He that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake, shall find it:’ Matt. 16: 25.  Thus, then, God, by His Spirit, warns Christians - yes, true believers - against sowing to the flesh.  For, alas! multitudes of Christ’s people do.



The threat of God against evil sowing, is, that such shall, out of the flesh - the field which they have tilled - reap a fruit they will not covet.  They will reap corruption.  What means this?  It does not refer to simple death of the body now, for that is felt my saints whose walk pleases God, as truly as by the most irregular and careless of [regenerate] believers.  It is something which must harmonize with the previous threat contained in Gal. 5: 19-21 of the former chapter.  There we are cautioned that the workers after the flesh should, by God’s ordination, not inherit the kingdom of God.  Here it is said, they shall reap corruption.  If it means they shall have no part in the bliss of Messiah’s reign of a thousand years, both are in unison; and the doctrine which has looked out upon us from so many passages appears once more.  As the works of the flesh mean the same thing as sowing to the flesh, so does the issue in each passage intend the same thing.  The reaping corruptionis the being excluded from [the First Resurrection” and] inheriting the kingdom of God.  They [that is, their bodies*] will remain under the bondage of corruption during the millennial reign of Christ [upon and over this earth].  They would remain the slaves corruption for ever; but that the merits of Another come in to counteract so dread a conclusion, and to open to them the doors of eternal life.


[* We hope it is unnecessary to prove that the time in which decomposed bodies remain in the grave under “corruption,” is synonymous with the time their “souls” remain in “hades= O.T. “sheol” - the place of the dead, “in the heart of the earth:” (Matt. 12: 40; 16: 18; Lk. 16: 23, 30, 31. cf. Gen. 37: 35; Psa. 16: 10; Acts 2: 34, R.V.): that which Death separates; Resurrection will, at “the coming of the Lord,” reunite,  1 Thess. 4: 15, 16, R.V.]



Thus, too, it falls into perfect harmony with the other part of the verse - that the sower to the Spirit shall out of the Spirit reap life eternal.  The result of life to the Spirit is contrary to a life to the flesh.  The issue of the fleshly life is exclusion from the kingdom.  The result then of the spiritual [and obedient] life, to one who is in Christ, is the entrance into the [coming Messianic] kingdom.  But why is it not so stated here?  It is said, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  The reason of the smaller and inferior issue not being named is, I suppose, lest it should be imagined that a thousand years was the limit of the obedient saint’s joy.  He receives, as reward according to his works, an entrance on the life of the thousand years.  But after these are ended, there will be no break in his enjoyment, but an eternity of life begins for him at the [eternal] kingdom.  The Spirit,’ says the apostle, is life:’ Rom. 8: 10.  Already, as the gracious gift of God, the soul of the believer is alive.  But this is a further and future life, the result of our works, the consequence of a spiritual living to God.  How, then, can it be understood of any other than life of the body - life in [and after] resurrection?  And, as this alternative intends life in resurrection, so does the close of the verse speak of the reverse - the failure of [partaking in] the first resurrection - the being counted unworthy to attain the coming age, and the resurrection [out] from amongst the dead.  As the resurrection of the just is by Jesus promised to a holy beneficence (Luke 14: 14), so may the contrary be justly awarded to the contrary scheme of life and expenditure.



But does not this scheme of yours open the door to sin?  Will not its consequence in many be, that they will reason thus? – ‘we shall have eternal life at all events.  We care little about the kingdom of the thousand years.  We shall therefore live after the flesh, and indulge its lusts to the full.’  Will mere exclusion from the kingdom suffice to prevent such dread consequences?  Aye, but, friend, who ever said that there was no future punishment for the guilty believer than simple exclusion from millennial bliss?  There are different degrees of living after the flesh.  There are also different degrees of punishment.  A quiet love of the world in its decent forms, in the case of the uninstructed saint, may perhaps require at the Lord’s hands no more than a simple rejection from that scene of joy.  But a deliberate choice of the works of the flesh after the present truth is presented and owned, a shocking and stumbling of the world by open breaches of morality, would demand far more.  There is time in a thousand years to inflict as much of wrath on the delinquent son as the Father shall deem necessary.  I say unto you, my friends. I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear.  Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell, yea, I say unto you, Fear him.’  That servant which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes:’ Luke 12: 4, 5, 47, 48.  This doctrine brings the fear of God, in all its magnitude and awe, to bear upon the disobedient child of God.  And this motive is assigned as designed to perfect holiness.  Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God:’ 2 Cor. 7: 1.


- Quoted from writings by ROBERT GOVETT.






The radical error in the matter has been to confound terms that differ.  By both schools - [i.e., the Arminian and Calvinist, who understand by the words ‘inheriting the kingdom’ above, understand the words to refer to the eternal kingdom, after Messiah’s reign upon David’s throne in the “Age” to come has ended, and “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more” (Rev. 21: 1, R.V.)!] - inheriting the kingdom’ has been wrongly taken to mean simply saved from hell [i.e., ‘the lake of fire]; and so ‘not inheritinghas been wrongly deemed synonymous with everlasting perdition.  But once it has been seen that receiving [eternal] salvation from wrath is one thing, and that rising to the glory of rule in the [millennial] kingdom is another thing, and is AN ATTAINMENT that at once becomes a possibility to forfeit the kingdom by personal misconduct, (and to incur in addition abundantly severe chastisement, proportionate to the offences, and sufficient, if apprehended, to deter from carnality,) whilst yet retaining eternal life by the pure grace of God, exercised on the merit of Christ alone.  



- Quoted from writings by G. H. LANG.






Grace! ’tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear,

Heaven with the echo shall resound, and all the earth shall hear:

’Twas grace that wrote my name, in Life’s eternal book:

Grace taught my wandering feet to tread the heavenly road:

Grace all the work shall crown, through everlasting days.



Yes! no word in human vocabulary is dearer, and we can hardly over-emphasize the wonderful fact that we are     saved by Grace alone through faith - free, unmerited grace with no works of our own, and that we shall never perish;     but it is possible to emphasize Grace to the exclusion of God’s infinite justice, and to attribute to Him an easy generosity which would gloss over the unconfessed and un-forgiven sins of His own people, and so deprive believers of all responsibility for their walk and life and character.  In view of such statements from the lips of our Lord Himself - ‘the Son of man shall come in His Glory and then shall he render to every man according to his deeds’, and, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me to render to each man according as his work is’ - it can hardly be denied that reward is according to our works, and will be awarded at the Coming of our Lord.



Our Lord’s own promise is, ‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.’  It will hardly be denied that all Christians are not ‘overcomers’.  Even the Apostle Paul had to run, fight, and buffet his body lest that by any means after being a herald he himself should be rejected - disqualified for the Prize; and so, “forgetting those things that are behind”, he “pressed towards the mark for the Prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.  If the chief Apostle was in danger of losing his Crown, how much more we!  A gift once received from God is certain, and so eternal life: not so a prize - as the Millennial Kingdom - which can never be assured until won.”


- Quoted from writings by W. P. CLARKE.






The Bible teaches two great facts.  First, that near to the end of time [that is, near the end of this present age] certain forces will swiftly head up world affairs into what the Lord called the tribulation.  Second, that a class of believers will escape the tribulation by flight to Him.  One is recorded in Rev. 3: 10:  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.’  The other is Luke 21: 34-36: ‘Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.’


Whatever the Song of Solomon teaches, there is a beautiful picture of a blessed event in the second chapter.  Arise, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.’   If the earth is to be troubled as it never has been ‘since there was a nation’ (Daniel 12: 1, [A.V.]) during the absence of the bride, what a blessing, what a privilege and what a comfort to be the queen-bride of the King of Glory!  To be delivered from the terrible tribulation of the world undergoing a just judgment for its sins should be a great cause for gratitude on the part of the faithful.  See Isaiah 26: 20, 21: ‘Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.  See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins.  The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.’”


- Quoted from: The Preparing Bride.”




The essential matter that the Lord will come, and that each should be ready to face His judgment, is powerful in moral effect

Another harmful result to this situation is now being recognized, namely, that the so important topic of the blessed hope is dropping out of the ministry in the assemblies.  This is incalculable loss, but it is inevitable unless the whole position be changed.  Dogmatists are more or less conscious that they cannot now reply upon the almost obsequious acceptance once rendered to mere assertion.  Moreover, some teachers are not so blissfully sure of certain points as once they thought they were, and being undecided in mind they wisely say little.  Those who have definite beliefs we judge worthy of statement refrain, either by request or from the fear mentioned of precipitating strife.  There seems no way open for restoring the great theme to its just place save granting liberty to every spiritually accredited teacher to express what he believes he has found in the Word, the rest judging of what he says.

A similar but yet wider result is that large portions of the Word are neglected.  The more part of the instructions by the Lord Himself; the warnings of Paul as to being disinherited, given to three churches (1 Cor. 6; Gal. 5; Eph. 5); the five lengthy and weighty warnings in Hebrews; the solemn words to the seven churches (Rev. 2 & 3), are examples of these neglected passages.  Under the popular scheme such scriptures have no direct message to the child of God, and their value is lost. Those who would so apply them ARE WARNED NOT TO DO SO: it will compel uncomfortable revision of cherished opinions: it will prick conscience; it will provoke strife!  With such as myself it is a solemn question how much longer we shall be justified before God, in the interests of a deceptive truce, to keep back a large part of His counsel.  It seems to border on dealing deceitfully with His Word to ignore wide tracts of it, for the teaching prominent in the portions just mentioned permeates the whole.  By what right do teachers of any one view put this strain upon the faithfulness of teachers of some other view?

Under the same obstruction great themes on which God has been pleased to give much, if scattered, information cannot be opened up to the saints, for these also would compel some revision of accepted notions. The vast and illuminating subject of the temporal judgment of God, including the present judical administration of heaven and earth by angel rulers, is the key to many perplexing passages; the general service of angels; THE STATE AND PLACE OF SOULS BETWEEN DEATH AND RESURRECTION; the time and conditions of the judgment seat of Christ and its issues - are some themes of fascinating interest and of deep practical importance waiting fuller investigation.  The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation need more exact harmonizing and will yield yet more instruction.  Indeed, because the Word of God is inexhaustible, we ought not to treat it as if we had exhausted it, but ought eagerly to push enquiries forward regardless of what revision of opinions may be involved.  But for most persons such research, or at least the exposition of its results, is debarred in the assemblies by influences before mentioned.  Only the kingdom of the Devil is advantaged by large parts and themes of the Word being let alone by Christians.

Though the end days, as they are described in Scripture, are not yet come, they are nearer than they were.  At any rate, the present time is perilous enough to spiritual and moral life to require a far more powerful stimulus to devotion and warning against defection than has been provided by the view of the future so long dominant. In the tranquil period some can remember it was easy enough to talk smoothly about perilous times and end days and great tribulation,’ and for teachers to assure their souls and their hearers that there was not the least ground for personal concern, because the church entire was certain to be removed to heaven before those dread days could set in.  But this complacent outlook does not stir the soul into flame, nor brace the nerves to faithfulness and suffering in a period of world upheaval.  With nations full of foreboding, and of consequent suspicion against each other, with military service sternly compulsory in most lands, with governments more and more first regulating and then suppressing pure Christianity, some more powerful and deep-acting tonic is required.

What the Church of God now needs imperatively is men able to show fearlessly what the Word of God teaches as to the future that will guide life through difficulties and dangers, perplexities and perils; also how to gain strength to be faithful and holy, and what will be the heavenly recompense; and able to show also what will be the sorrowful penalties the Christian must face if unfaithful to Christ and the word of His patience.  But this demands close scrutiny of the Word of truth free from the bias and fetters of preconceived schemes of interpretation.  It calls for zeal and courage, and the making known of the results demands liberty of utterance, if saints are to profit by it.  It is for this God-granted liberty that appeal is here made.

Readers of church history know that all too many God-wrought movements have sooner or later been paralyzed by one and the same means.  The fresh light and truth gained from Scripture at the first, the walking in which brought liberty and quickening, is presently systematized into a creed or a scheme of teaching; zealous adherents of this scheme will allow no deviation from it: it becomes the test of orthodoxy in that sphere; liberty is crushed, progress ceases, movement stops, paralysis and death ensue. The maintaining of popular orthodoxy may prove the death of spirituality.  

- Quoted from: The Rights of the Holy Spirit in the House of God.”






In deciding to believe or reject the doctrine of a conditional millennial kingdom, it might help to remember that the majority of modern, professing Christians believe something far more dreadful and terrible than anything this book maintains!  They believe that if the Christian does not keep up a certain degree of works he loses salvation and burns for trillions of years and onward into endless eternity!  Others teach that the Christian must keep up this standard of works to prove he is really saved to begin with.  If he falls below the quota-line (whatever that is), again, he is destined to bum for eternity in torment.  In either doctrine, one must be good or burn in torment for billions of years without end.  The message to the Christian in these horrible views is the same, ‘Be good or suffer for endless eternity in fire.’ On the other hand, the message this book brings to the Christian is, ‘Be good or suffer loss for 1000 years  It is indeed dreadful, but it is not a crippling, horrendous insanity that must be upheld in self-righteous, Pharisaical delusion if it is to remain at all in the forefront of the mind.



Notice the response the Irish biographer, Joseph D’ Arcy Sirr (1794-1868) made in 1841 upon hearing about conditional entrance into the millennial kingdom:



With as much evidence of truth might we conclude, that martyrs only are included in the narrative of the First Resurrection.  I know that such a conclusion indeed has been drawn by my Millenarian friend Mr. Burgh, from the place before us, since he restricts the sense of this passage to those who have at least had the spirit of martyrs.  Now, I, for my part, believe that all the Lord’s real children possess just such a spirit, for they have the Spirit of Jesus. ... I, therefore, can discover no ground for the limitation that has been contended for, though I readily admit, nay maintain, on the general tenor of Scripture, that it is through much tribulation the way to the Kingdom lieth; and theirs is a perilous state who know nothing of it, or who court the world in order to avoid it.’*  


* Joseph D’ Arcy Sirr, The Resurrection Considered In A Series Of Letters (1841).



In this view, Christians must still perform the good works, sacrifices, etc.!  They must still suffer.  They must resist temptation and possess a ‘martyr spirit.’  If they lack these things they either lose eternal salvation or they prove they have never possessed it to begin with.  The end result is the same; only the loss for failing to do the required works is not 1000 years.  It is not even a billion years.  According to the above interpretation, all professing Christians must suffer and strive to keep (or prove) salvation in order to escape damnation in endless eternity!  Such interpretations are far more dreadful and horrible than anything this book maintains.  Compared to these views, this book holds the moderate position between no judgment and eternal judgment for the carnal believer.



The answer to the objection is that we are to never stop and rest until the Day of Rest comes.  We are to never assume we are already good enough.  We are to fear, hope and strive until the end.  On the other hand, we must also beware of doubting the provision or mercy of God in regard to the kingdom.  We must not despise all that Jesus has done to provide power to run the race and win.  Many Israelites missed the Promised Land for such unbelief in God’s power.



This accountability teaching does not create a special clique of Christians who think they have obtained above others.  In fact, it is the very thing that guards against such attitudes by promising severe punishment for self-exaltation:


Matthew 18: 1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.



4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


True kingdom believers do not yet think they have obtained the prize:


Philippians 3: 11 If by any means I mught attain unto the resurrection [out] of the dead.


12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.


13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.



Furthermore, kingdom believers might ask others how good they have to be to think themselves saved in eternity.  If Christians must look to their works for assurance of eternal salvation, how much fruit must we possess?  The answer that is given is the answer the kingdom believer will give in return!



Or how good do we have to be to win a jewel on a crown at the judgment seat?  Many teach that there is no punishment at the judgment seat.  They teach that there is only the obtaining of various crowns.  But why do they not ask how good we must be to obtain a crown?  When we speak of real punishment many suddenly desire to know where the line is.  Yet, they cannot tell us where the line is even in regard to their own souls in eternity.  Their whole objection reveals that the idea of losing a few jewels on a crown where there is a street of gold was never that big a threat to them in the first place.  Yet, when we mention 1000 years of banishment to the underworld, suddenly we have their attention!  They want to know how good we must be.  This alone manifests the impotent theology of those who will not believe the accountability truths of Scripture.”


- Quoted from: The Rod: Will God Spare It? (pp. 243, 244.)






It is said, ‘Such of the Corinthians as were guilty of these sins were not saints.  The acts are such as no converted person can commit.  Only a few hypocrites, that had crept in unawares, were the offenders.  Such will be found in all churches.’  Now undoubtedly this is the way in which most Christians and teachers of the present day would deal with the question.  They would urge that offenders to examine themselves, whether they were really believers.  For it was incredible, that truly converted persons could so conduct themselves.  But the Holy Spirit takes the very opposite course.  He assumes throughout, and distinctly asserts in this verse [1 Cor. 6: 11], that the essentials of saintship belonged to the offenders.  Were they Hypocrites, who were justified, sanctified, baptized?  They had more evidence of acceptance than any believer has now: for they had the baptism of the Spirit, and the miraculous gifts which that baptism left behind it.  Ye came behind in no gift:’ 1 Cor. 1: 7.  In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body:’ 12: 13.  The same ye who are charged guilty of injustice and fraud, were justified and sanctified!



But while they were believers, and, as such, sure, on the promise of God, of attaining [receiving] eternal life; God had yet room to punish offenders.  The millennial day is the day of recompense for our works, whether good or evil.  A thousand years is time enough to mark God’s pleasure in our works, or his displeasure against them.  As eternal life shews his pleasure in the work of Christ, and in those who by faith are one with him, so will the recompense of the millennial day, for good or for evil, display his sentiments concerning the special work of each believer.



The worldly often cry out against professors of religion, as guilty of cheating, and taking unfair advantage in business.  It is doubtless too often true.  Not a few converted persons offend thus.  Here then is the threatened justice of God against such.  If his saints [wilfully] sin, they shall not go unpunished.  He hates the offence in them, as surely as the worldly.  He has devised a way, whereby he will make his displeasure visible to all intelligent beings, and felt by themselves.



Let all believers then keep this first truth clearly before their eye.  Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings:’ Isa. 3: 10.”


- Quoted from Entrance Into The Kingdom, (pp. 207).






The laver stood between the altar and the house.  No one could rightly wash at the laver who had not first been cleansed by blood at the altar: yet no one could safely approach the house, the place of nearness to God, who had not received the double cleansing of blood and water: that ye die not was the warning which made washing at the laver imperative.  Witness in this age Ananias and Sapphira, and see 1 Cor. 11: 29, 30; etc.



Man reverses the order and puts the water at the entrance door and the altar as far from the guilty suppliant as possible.  Thus is the gospel wholly falsified and drawing near to God with boldness made impossible.  But almost equally mischievous, at least as regards priestly access and service, is the idea of washing with blood, so creating the crippling notion that all is obtained and realized at the altar, at justification [by faith], and so the necessity and virtue of the water, the cleansing ministry of the Spirit by the Word, is unrecognized.



The force of this priestly cleansing the Lord would now impress upon His servants.  They were the nucleus of that holy and royal priesthood of which Peter and John speak (1 Pet. 2: 5; Rev. 1: 5, 6).  The benefit of the altar they had already received when they wrote these scriptures, for Christ had loosed them from their sins in His blood, when He had shed it on the cross; acts and walk, should be actually and perpetually kept clean.  Judical cleansing by blood must be followed by actual cleansing by water.  The former secures justification, without approach to the laver and the water.  But priestly privilege equally demands the laver and the water.  Therefore, at the Redeemer’s death, water commingled with the blood that poured from His pierced side, as John particularly specifies in his narrative and on which he comments in his epistle (John 19: 34, 35; 1 John 5: 6).



For this double cleansing David had cried to God after his fall and foul defilement: Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow’ (Ps. 51: 7).  Hyssop was the herb used for sprinkling the atoning, justifying blood (Ex. 12: 12); washing was with water to remove outward uncleanness, as in the cleansing of the leper (Lev. 14: 8, 9; etc.).”


- Quoted from Pictures and Parables,’ (pp. 328, 329).






An evil spirit does not swallow and destroy the word of God itself; but he can remove it from the mind of the hearer.  Here arises the vast importance that the preacher, having himself first understood the message, shall present it so lucidly that the hearer may understand it.  Of C. G. Finney one said: He does not preach; he explains what other people preach; and his ministry was most fruitful.


- Quoted from Pictures and Parables,’ (pp. 68).



Let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE that we waver not; for he is faithful that promised: and let us consider one another to provoke to love and good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the DAY drawing nigh.”



For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins but A FEARFUL EXPECTATION OF JUDGMENT, and of fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries.”



A man that set at nought Moses’ law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”



For we know him that said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I WILL RECOMPENSE.  And again, THE LORD SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE:” (Hebrews 10: 23-30).













The Millennial Age will be a time, not only of reward for those who will have overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, but also of chastisement for such believers as will be found to have failed in their walk - through indolence, or the minding of earthly things - and will, consequently, be sentenced to remain in abodes of the dead [i.e., in ‘Hades’, (Luke 16: 23)] until the Last Day.  For it will then appear, that, through their lack of earnestness and prayer for the [Holy] Spirit’s help, their sanctification was not perfected during their earth-life; and it must be so before they can dwell for ever with the Lord.  They did evil in the body as well as good, and did not judge themselves and repent with bitter crying before the Lord: therefore, they must be judged by Him, and even as they did, so must they receive.

Hence the Judgment-seat of Christ will dispense temporary chastisement for trespass, as well as rewards.  This is plainly indicated in the verses under our consideration, as well as in other striking passages of the First Gospel, which, as we study them in due course, will increase our knowledge of a solemn but disliked and much neglected truth.  We shall, moreover, find it revealed, with equal clearness, in other parts of the New Testament.

For instance, what does Paul mean in the subjoined passage?  In speaking exclusively to those who have accepted the only true foundation, he tells us, that it is possible [for regenerate believers] to build upon it either with gold, silver and costly stones, or with wood, hay and stubble, and then continues:

Each man’s work shall be made manifest: for the Day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire’ (1 Cor. 3: 13).

And again:-

Wherefore, also, we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him.  For we must all be made manifest before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but to God we have been made manifest: and I hope that we have been made manifest also in your consciences’ (2 Cor. 5: 9).

And was not the sentiment expressed in the last verse, the fear of the Lord’s terrible judgment of His Own House, powerfully affecting the Apostle when he wrote:-

The Lord grant mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus: for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but, when he was in Rome, he sought me diligently, and found me - The Lord grant unto him to find mercy of the Lord at That Day - and in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.’

Surely if Paul was moved to interpose this fervent ejaculatory prayer on behalf of one who was not only called, but had also shown himself faithful by fearlessly ministering to the Lord’s servant while he was fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus, and, subsequently, at Rome, when he was in the clutches of the most unscrupulous and cruel of persecuting tyrants - surely, if the Apostle was impelled to pray for such a one, that the Lord would grant him mercy in the Day of His Judgment, there can be no [regenerate] believer who is not in need of the same mercy.

Hence the decisions issued from the Judgment-seat of Christ will have the following results:

Those servants of the Lord who shall be found to have been faithful will be judged worthy of the First Resurrection, and will be made Priests of God and of His Christ, and will reign with Him for a Thousand Years.  They will thus enjoy the great Sabbath that remains for the people of God, and will themselves rest from their labours, even as He did from His.

But the unfaithful servants will be banished into the darkness without the pale of the Kingdom, where they will be detained, and dealt with according to the sentence of the Lord, until the Last Day.  Then, when the time of reward has passed by, He will raise them up to everlasting life, even as He has promised to do in the case of all who have believed in Him.





God recompenses every man, whether believer or unbeliever.  He recompenses every deed that man has done or will do.  He pays back either good or bad.  For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works’ (Matt. 16: 27).  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be’ (Rev. 22: 12).  No one escapes His judgment, Jew or Gentile, saved or unsaved.

Now we come to the believer.  In Romans 6: 23 we read that the gift of God is eternal life to the one who believes.  We don’t work for a gift; we don’t work to gain eternal life.  We believe and we have it.  And this eternal life abides forever.  When a person is converted, he receives the Holy Spirit who comes to abide in him for ever.* Salvation is a free and eternal gift.  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son’ (1 John 5: 1).

[* It is questionable if the Holy Spirit abides in every believer, regardless of their behaviour.  I personally do not believe He does!  There are many Scriptures which teach us that His indwelling is conditional:And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given TO THEM THAT OBEY HIM” (Acts 5: 32).  Compare with: John 15: 2, 4, 5, 6; Rom. 8: 13.  See also “Power Lost and Recovered” and “The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit].

Rewards, however, are determined by the believer’s works; whatever his vocation or station in life, the works he performs after conversion settle his reward.  Christians sometimes say carelessly, “Oh, I am all right.  I am saved.”  And then they act worse than the world, although their lives as children of God ought to be holy, worthy of the Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit to His glory.

What shall We Have?

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?  And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ (Matt. 19: 27, 28).

Our Lord here directs Peter’s eyes away from the present and turns them to the future glory when the Son of man will be reigning upon the earth.  The twelve were now apostles, chosen leaders; and they sought to know what would be their reward because they had forsaken all for Christ.  Their reward was not in the present, but in the future, and it consisted in their reigning in His kingdom.  Will they be sitting just anywhere, as some believers say, ‘I’ll be satisfied if I only get to heaven’?  That prospect would never have contented Peter.  The apostles will sit on thrones, which are assigned only to persons who reign, who wield authority over others.  To reign is to hold authority, issue commands, put down rebellions, and maintain order.

We see that the apostles will have their reward, but what are we going to have?  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together’ (Rom. 8: 17).  One of the hardest words in the Bible is suffer.  We don’t like it.  The old man rebels against it; and the new man, also, very often.  A special glory [in the ‘age’ to come] awaits, however, all who suffer with Christ and for Him.  This promise of Romans 8: 17 is not simply the glory of being made like Christ when He comes; it goes beyond that.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us’ (v. 18).

Most of us do not know what suffering for Christ’s sake really is.  Easy-going Christian service robs us of reward.  If we do not press forward and suffer for Him, we shall lose our reward.  Few Christians understand that true service is always accompanied by suffering.  We shall suffer too if we choose God’s best for us.  His best is always difficult, although possible; and our nearest and dearest may oppose our choice.  The enemy will arouse everything against us in order to turn us away from His best.

Striving for a Crown

Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, lest after I have preached to others, I myself, should be a castaway’ (1 Cor. 9: 25, 27), or should be rejected(R.V.) from being awarded the crown.  These familiar words ought to challenge us to examine ourselves to learn whether we run uncertainly or whether we will assuredly receive this incorruptible crown.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet as by fire’ (1 Cor. 3: 13-15).  The fire into which the work of the believer will be put is not for purging or cleansing; it is for testing, to prove what sort of work it is.  It will manifest the quality of his work.  Some Christians hold that at that day all their unworthy past will be cleansed away, with not a trace of it remaining.  Not so.  Their work will be tested by fire and will determine their eternal reward.

The child of God may ask, ‘Why worry about rewards?  We don’t need to know about them.  We shall get to heaven and then everything will be all right.’  But the Lord wants us to receive His full reward, all that He has in store for us.  If at His judgment seat we get anything less, we have come that much short of glorifying Him.  The more reward, the more praise and glory to His matchless name.  It has been said that to-day’s toil is the measure of to-morrow’s glory.  If we do not toil our loss will be great.

Rulers in the Kingdom of Christ

The kingdom of Christ when He returns to reign on earth will cover the whole world, fulfilling such prophecies as this: The seventh angel sounded; and there was great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11: 15).  For His great kingdom, Christ must have a considerable staff of administrators.  Most Christians, seeing little of the future which God has planned for them, do not understand that He has called us to rule with Christ in His kingdom as His administrators.  With a vague exception they look forward to an eternity where all their time is occupied with singing hallelujahs and casting their crown before the throne of God.  Eternity has in store for us far more than that.

Behold, A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment’ (Isa. 32: 1).  The Lord Jesus Christ will reign as King of all the earth, and with Him will be many reigning princes.  Now God seeks and prepares the future rulers for His kingdom.  When we pray Thy kingdom come,” let us remember that we shall reign with Him if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together’ (Rom. 8: 17); ‘if we suffer, we shall also reign with him’ (2 Tim. 2: 12).

The Servant Who Lost Everything

The last servant mentioned in the parable of Luke 19: 22 didn’t do anything.  A lazy, indifferent follower of the Lord, he earned nothing with his pound.  What happened to him in the judgment?  He lost even his one pound: And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.  Thou knewest that I was as austere man, taking up that I laid down, and reaping that I did not sow; Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?  And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds’ (vv. 22-25).  We profit much by studying this parable and learning the lesson that we shall suffer great loss in the judgment if we do not perform faithfully what he commits to our hands.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing’; (2 Tim. 4: 7, 8).  Blessed is the man that endureth temptations, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him’ (James 1: 12).

The Word of God teaches that great, [millennial and] eternal rewards are available for believers, but that only those who work hard for them receive them.  God offers us crowns and conditions stated in the Word, and He will grant them to us only if we meet the conditions.  May God give every one of us grace to receive His full reward at the judgment seat of Christ.




*The following is selected from writings by



1. God has an inescapable duty to be the Judge of all the earth’ (Gen. 18: 25).  Those who submit to Him are subject to this judgment equally with the insubordinate: The Lord shall judge His people (Deut. 32: 36; Psa. 135: 14; Heb. 10: 30).  The children of the sovereign are amenable to the laws and the courts and liable to penalty for misconduct.

2. This judgment is ever in process.  There is a perpetual overruling of human affairs by higher authorities. Prominent instances are Job (ch. 1 and 2), Ahab (1 Kin. 22), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4).  The first case shows the judicial proceedings effecting perfecting, the second death, the third reformation.

Job was a godly man under discipline for his good: an upright man was made a holy man.  Thus still does God chasten His sons that they may become partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12: 10, 11).

Sinning Christians were disciplined even unto premature death, and it is explained that this operates to save them from liability to condemnation at the time when God will deal with the world at large (1 Cor. 11: 32).

3. But this continuous judicial administration has its crisis sessions, its special occasions.  Instances are: the Flood; the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the judgments on Egypt at the time of the exodus of Israel; the destruction of the seven nations of Canaan by Israel; the overthrow of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; and later by Titus.

Hereafter there will come the destruction of Gentile world dominion and the punishment of Antichrist.  Then the judgment at Jerusalem of the living (Joel 2; Matt. 25), when the Lord has returned to Zion.  And after the thousand years the final session of the court of God, the great white throne, whereat will be declared the eternal destiny of those there judged.

But it is most necessary to keep in mind that all such separate and specific sessions are but part of the ceaselessly operating judicial administration of heaven and earth.

4. It is important to remember that the Son of man is the chief Judge of the universe.  It was He who acted at the Flood: Jehovah sat as king at the Flood’ (Psa. 29: 10).  It was He who, in holy care that only justice should be done, came down to enquire personally whether Sodom and Gomorrah ought to be destroyed (Gen. 18: 20, 21), and Who again came down to deliver Israel from Egypt (Ex. 3: 7, 8).  it was His glory as judge that was seen by Isaiah (ch. 6; John 12: 41), and later by Ezekiel (ch. 1).

He is the Man appointed to judge the world in righteousness on behalf of God the Father (Acts 17: 31); for the Father has entrusted all judgment unto the Son, in order that He may receive equal honour with the Father (John 5: 19-29).

5. Yet it is particularly needful to note that the last cited passage is in reference to the future sessions of the divine judgment, for the judging in question is there set in direct connection with the raising of men from the dead (John 5: 21, 22, 27-29).  For when the Son of God became man He ceased for the present to supervise those judgments of heaven.  This was among the dignities of which He emptied, that is, divested Himself, for His immediate and blessed purpose in becoming man was their salvation from judgment (John 5: 24).  Therefore He said: God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him’ (John 3: 17); nor has He yet resumed the office of supreme Judge, though appointed thereto as man.  In relation to the world He is still the Dispenser of the grace of God, not yet the Executor of His holy wrath, as He will one day become.

This is clear from three chief considerations:

(1) That the Father has called Him to sit at His own right hand until the time when His enemies are to be put under His feet (Ps. 110: 1; Heb. 1: 13; 10: 13).  That is, He is not yet sitting upon His own throne and asserting His own right and authority, as He will do in a later day (Rev. 2: 26, 27; 3: 21; Matt. 25: 31); but He is waiting expectantly that coming day.

(2) And therefore is it twice pictured that, as Son of man, the Lamb, He is hereafter to be brought before the Father to be invested officially with that authority to judge and to make war the title to which is His already but the exercise of which is in abeyance (Dan. 7: 13, 14; Rev. ch. 4 and 5).  In both of these scenes it is God the Father who is shown acting from the throne of judgment until the Son has been thus formally installed as Judge.

(3) And therefore is He now the Advocate of His people before the Father (1 John 2: 1).  But the Advocate cannot be at the same time the Judge.

6. Thus during this interval the especial concern and sphere of the Son of man is the company He is calling out of the world, the church of God.  The building of His church is His present work (Matt. 16: 18): the regulating of the affairs of the house of God, over which He as Son is the appointed ruler (Heb. 3: 6), is His immediate and dear concern.

And this work calls for both grace and judgment.  He can bear gently with the ignorant and the erring, sympathizing with our infirmities’ (Heb. 5: 2; 4: 15); but dealing with kind severity with the wilful of His people.  Behold then the goodness and severity of God’ (Rom. 11: 22).  Nor may we abuse His goodness by making light of His severity; or if we do, it will be unto painful disillusionment.

7. Judgment upon His own people therefore God exercises now; this is the very period for it; but the general judgment of the world is deferred: The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God’ (1 Pet. 4: 17).  And again: If we discriminated [sat in strict judgment upon] ourselves, we should not be judged; but when [failing in this holy self-judgment] we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord [here perhaps the Father; comp. Heb. 12: 5, 9, where He who chastens is the Father of spirits] that we may not be condemned with the world’ (1 Cor. 11: 30, 31).  And this chastening may extend to bodily weakness, positive sickness, or even death.  So it was in the cases of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5: 1-11, and see Jas. 5: 19, 20; 1 John 5, 16, 17; Matt. 5: 21-26; 18: 28-35).

8. The Lord made many most serious statements as to His dealings with His own servants at His return.  Some of these are:

(1) Luke 12: 22-53.  From dealing with the crowd He turns and speaks specifically to, His own disciples (verse 22).  Only genuine disciples, regenerated persons, are able to fulfil His precepts here given.  To mere professors the task is impossible, and such cannot be in view.  They are to live without any anxiety as to the necessities of life, and in this are to be in express contrast to the nations; they are His little flock,’ for whom the Father intends the kingdom, and therefore they are to give away, not to hoard, and so to lay up treasure in heaven (21-34).  It is impossible to include the unregenerate in such a passage; nor would it be attempted save to avoid the application to Christians of part of the succeeding and connected instruction.

This instruction is that disciples are like the personal household slaves of an absent master, who upon his return will deal with each according to his conduct during the master’s absence.  In particular, the steward set over the household will be dealt with the more strictly that his office, opportunities, and example were the higher.  The goodness of the master is seen in exalting the faithful (though from one point of view he had done no more than his duty and was an unprofitable servant) to almost unlimited privilege and power: He will set him over all that he hath’ (verse 44): his severity is shown by cutting in sunder* the servant who had abused his trust, and appointing his portion with the unfaithful (35-53).

[* Equals ‘severely scourge,’ because the scourge used cut deeply into the flesh - see margin.]

(2) This is elaborated and enforced in later statements. Luke 19: 11-27.  The picture is the same - namely, the absent master and the faithful or unfaithful servants.  The pound represents that deposit of truth entrusted to the saints (Jude 3), for their use among men while Christ is away: Trade ye till I come.’  The Nobleman himself held and used it while here, and left it with us when He went to receive the kingdom.  If we traffic with knowledge it increases in our hands and we gain more; if we neglect to do so it remains truth, retaining its own intrinsic value (thou hast thy pound), but we do not accumulate knowledge, nor benefit others, nor bring to our Lord any return for His confidence in us.  In this parable it is not the personal life of the slave that is in question; that may have been good: it is his use of the truth in either spreading it among man, or hiding his light under a bushel of silence, or, as the picture is here, burying the pound in the earth.

The unfaithful servant loses opportunity further to serve his lord, the pound is taken from him.  Sadder still, his lord has no confidence in him.  But he is not an enemy of his lord, nor is treated as such.  He does not lose his  life.  The contrast is most distinct between him, however unfaithful, and the foes and rebels: But these mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me’ (verse 27).

(3) Matt. 24: 42-25, 30.  Only a few days later the Lord repeated this instruction, with fuller detail.  The head slave, set as steward of the house during the absence of the master, will be set over all his lord’s possessions if only he have acted faithfully (45-47).  But if that evil servantabuses his position, and becomes self-indulgent and tyrannical, he will be severely scourged,’ and his portion be allotted with the hypocrites, where he will weep and gnash his teeth over his folly and lot.

Only a [regenerate] believer who does not consider his own heart will assert that a Christian cannot act the hypocrite, be unfaithful, or arbitrary and unloving.  But the pronoun that’ – ‘But if that evil servant, etc.,’ leaves no option but to regard him as a believer, for it has no antecedent to whom it can refer except the faithful servant just before described, no other person having been mentioned.  That evil servant’: what evil servant? and there is no answer but that the faithful steward has become unfaithful* : And such cases are known.  Nor will we, for our part, join to consign all such to eternal ruin rather than accept the alternative of the temporary, though severe, punishments intimated by the Lord being possible to a [regenerate] believer.  Those who take the latter course, mainly influenced to support certain dispensational theories, have surely never weighed the solemnity of thus easily consigning so many backsliders to endless misery.

[* Weymouth is definite: ‘But if that man, being a bad servantplainly identifies the good and bad servant as one person.  And see Alford.]

Since, then, an unbeliever is (a) not set by the Lord over His house, nor (b) could feed the souls of his fellows, nor (c) could be so faithful as to become at last ruler of all the possessions of the Lord, this man must be a true believer.  But when such a one may lapse from his fidelity he does not thereby become unregenerate; consequently the unfaithful steward is still called one of the Lord’s own servants; and therefore a [regenerate] believer may incur the solemn penalties veiled under the figures used.

If it be thought inconceivable that the Lord should describe, one of His blood-bought and beloved people as a wicked servant’ (Matt. 25: 26), it must be weighed that He had before applied the term to a servant whose ‘debt’ had been fully remitted: thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt’ (Matt. 18: 32).  Thus one who, as an act of compassion by the Lord, has been fully forgiven all his failure as a servant may prove a wicked servant,’ his wickedness consisting in this, that though forgiven he would not forgive.  To deny that a child of God can be unforgiving is to blind the eyes by denying sad and stern fact.  The Lord left no room for doubt that members of the divine family were in His mind by the application of the parable He then and there made: Even so shall my heavenly Father do unto you [Peter, whose question as to forgiving had drawn forth the parable, and the other disciples, verse 1, 21], if ye forgive not, each one of you (hekastos), his brother from your hearts’ (35).  It is the Father and the brothers who are in question, not here those outside the [redeemed] family circle.

Moreover, if this parable be pressed to include a mere professing but unregenerate person some inevitable implications must be accepted.  It is by no means denied that there are such persons, but if they are in view here these consequences follow:-

(a) An unregenerate person has had all his debt forgiven.’

(b) In spite of this free forgiveness he remains unregenerate.

(c) A forgiven sinner can have the free pardon of his sins, revoked, in which case he will thereafter stand in his former lost estate exposed to the eternal wrath of God.  He may be [eternally] saved to-day yet lose this to-morrow.

(d) Though delivered to the tormentors he may entertain hope that he may yet himself pay all that is due (verse 34); that is, the wrath of God against the unregenerate can be somehow, some time satisfied by the sufferings and efforts of the sinner himself.  In these cases therefore Christ died for nought; they can at last secure their own deliverance.

In the fact, however, being delivered to the tormentor has no reference to the eternal judgment of the lost.  In the lake of fire neither lost angels nor lost men are stated to torment one another, but are all alike in the same torment.  It is a picture of present and temporal chastisement under that continually proceeding judgment of God above indicated, and which applies to His family as to others.  Regarded thus the above confusing implications do not arise, implications which no one divinely illuminated could accept.  But it results that the wicked servant is a real servant, not a hypocrite, and were it not for the severity of the punishment no one would be likely to question this.

It is not difficult to see what the punishment is.

(a) The forgiveness of his great failures as a servant can be revoked, and he be made to feel the sin and bitterness of not having walked by the same spirit as his Lord, nor rendered to Him the due use and return of the benefits grace had bestowed.

(b) Paul says of some who had once had faith and a good conscience (or they could not have thrust these away), and who had started on the voyage of faith (or they could not have made shipwreck), whom I delivered to Satan (the present tormentor,’ as of Job); but not to be afflicted by him in hell, but for their recovery, ‘that they might be taught not to blaspheme,’ which the torments of the damned will not teach them, as far as we see in the Word (1 Tim. 1: 19, 20. See also 1 Cor. 5: 3-5).

(4) We remark upon one other instance of these solemn testimonies by Christ, the parable of the virgins (Matt. 25).  It is to the same effect.

(a) They are all virgins, the foolish equally with the wise, which figure is inappropriate to indicate a worldling in his sins, even though he be a professing Christian.  In the only other places where it is used figuratively and spiritually it certainly means true Christians (2 Cor. 11: 2; Rev. 14: 4).

(b) They are all equally the invited guests of the bridegroom, not strangers, let alone his enemies.

(c) They all have oil, or, the foolish could not say our lamps are going out.’  Without some oil the lamps could not even have been lit, for a dry wick will not kindle and certainly could not have burned during the time they had slept.

(d) But the foolish had no supply to replenish the dimly burning flax and revive their testimony.  They had formerly been light in the Lord,’ but had been thoughtless as to grace to continue alight.

(e) They found means for this renewing, for in spite of the darkness they gained the bridegroom’s gate.

(f) They did not lose their lives, as enemies, but they did lose the marriage feast, and were left in the darkness outside the house.  This is parallel to the wicked servant,’ who also did not lose his life but did lose the entrance into the joy of his master at his return, and was cast into outer darkness.’

Two observations are vital to grasping the meaning of these judgments.

(1) A marriage feast is obviously no picture of anything eternal.  Plainly it is a temporary matter.  Grand, intensely happy, a highly coveted honour, especially when the king’s son, the heir apparent, is the bridegroom, it yet is but the prelude to a life, a reign, not anything long-extended, let alone permanent.  Does not this correspond to the joy of the millennial kingdom as the glorious prelude to the eternal kingdom?  For the ‘marriage of the Lamb’ comes at the immediate inception of that millennial kingdom (Rev. 19: 6-9).  And are not the invited virgins those of whom verse 9 says, Blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb,’ rather than the wife herself?  A bride is not usually invited to her wedding feast: it cannot (save, perhaps, among Moslems) be held without her.  Does not this give the clue to what the virgins and the unfaithful servant lose?

(2) Outer darkness is no picture of the lake of fire.  It is the realm just outside the palace where the feast is held, not the public prison or execution ground.  If the strict sense of Scripture pictures be kept, and imagination be not allowed to fill in what the Divine Artist did not put in, much confusion will be avoided.

It has been felt that the words of the bridegroom to the virgins, Verily I say unto you, I know you not preclude us from taking these to represent His true people.  But again the picture itself will give the real sense.  The bridegroom is here pictured as standing within the heavy and thick outer door that secures every eastern house of quality, and the door is shut.  He does not open it, or he would see who they are, and that they are some of his own invited guests; but standing the other side of the closed door he says, in idiomatic English, I tell you sincerely, I don’t know who you are (Ameen lego humin, ouk oida humas).  Into such a picture it is not permissible to read in divine omniscience; it must be taken simply as it is given.

Its force may be gathered more readily by the distinction between what is here said and what the Lord said in Matt. 7: 15-23.  There He spoke of false prophets, bad trees, men who, like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19: 13, used His holy name without warrant.  Picturing Himself as standing face to face with these He protests, I never at any time made your acquaintance!  Here the scene is changed; there is no closed door between: the verb to know is different: and the word rendered never is most emphatic and gives force and finality to the assertion (Oudepote egnon humas).  He did not speak thus to the virgins.

9. It is not our present purpose to consider all such testimony of the Word.  Enough has been advanced to show how much and how solemn is the teaching of Scripture as to judgment upon careless Christians.  We wish only to deal now with the time of the judgment seat of Christ as to His people.

The most general opinion is that this judgment lies between the moment of the Lord’s descent to the air, when they, dead and living, are caught up to Him there, and that later moment when He is to descend with them to the earth to set up His kingdom.  That is, the judging of His saints will take place during the Parousia.


(1.) No passage of Scripture seems, distinctly to place this judgment in this interval and in the air.  It seems to be rather assumed that it must take place then and there since the effects of it are to be seen in the different positions and honours in the kingdom immediately to follow.

(2.) As regards the parabolic instruction Christ gave when here it is to be observed that it speaks only of persons who will be found alive when the nobleman ... the master of the house returns.  Strictly, therefore, these parables tell nothing as to the time and circumstances of the judgment of dead believers.  It must be allowed that the principles of justice will be the same for dead and living, but the details as to the judgment of the former cannot be learned from these passages.

(3.) Some presuppositions held are:

(a) That every believer will share in the first resurrection and the millennial kingdom.

(b) The opposite, that not every believer will do so.

(c) That the judgment of the Lord will result in some of His people suffering loss of reward because of unfaithfulness, but nothing more than loss.  This involves that none of the positive and painful inflictions denounced can affect true believers.

(d) The opposite, that the regenerate may incur positive chastisement as a consequence of the Lord’s judgment at that time.  Thus in ‘Touching the Coming of the Lord (84, 85. ed.. 1), upon Col. 3: 25, For he that doeth wrong shall receive again the wrong that he hath done (margin): and there is no respect of persons,’ Hogg and Vine apply this text to that judgment of Christ at His parousia, and say: ‘It may be difficult for us to conceive how God will fulfil this word to those who are already in bodies of glory, partakers of the joy of the redeemed in salvation consummated in spirit, soul and body.  Yet may we be assured that the operation of this law is not to be suspended even in their case.  He that knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment” (2 Pet. 2: 9), knows also how to direct and to use the working of His law of sowing and reaping in the case of His children also.  The attempt to alleviate the text of some of its weight by suggesting that the law operates only in this life, fails, for there is nothing in the text or context to lead the reader to think other than that while the sowing is here the reaping is hereafter.  It is clear that if it were not for this supposed difficulty of referring the words to the Christian in the condition in which, as we know from other Scriptures, he will appear at the Judgment-seat of Christ, the question whether that time and place were intended would not be raised.”

(e) Some (Govett, Pember, and others) who hold that ‘the millennial kingdom may be forfeited by gross sin,’ suppose that all believers rise in the first resurrection, appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, and being adjudged by Him unworthy of the kingdom they return to the death state to wait the second resurrection and the great white throne judgment.  Their names being then as believers found in the book of life, they have eternal life in the eternal kingdom, but they will have missed the honour of sharing in and reigning in the millennial age.

These two last ideas (d) and (e) seem alike utterly impossible.  It seems wholly inconceivable that a body heavenly, spiritual, glorified, like indeed to the body of the Son of God himself, can be subjected to chastisement for guilt incurred by misuse of the present sin-marred body.  Not only the manner of the infliction but the fact of it seems to us out of the question.

It seems equally so that a body that is immortal and incorruptible can admit of its owner passing again into the death state.  The ideas and the terms are mutually contradictory and exclusive.  Of those who rise in that first resurrection the Lord said plainly: neither can they die any more (Lk. 20: 36).

What, then, is the solution of these difficulties?

10. We turn to passages dealing directly with the subject.

(1) 2 Cor. 5: 10. ‘We make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him.  For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’  This chief statement leaves unmentioned the time and place of the judgment.

(2) Heb. 9: 27. ‘It is laid up for men once to die and after this judgment (meta de touto krisis, no article).  Thus judgment may take place at any time after death.  Luke 16 shows Dives suffering anguish immediately after death, for the scene is Hades, the realm of the dead between death and resurrection, and his brothers are still alive on earth.  But again, Rev. 20: 11-15, shows another, the final judgment after resurrection, after the millennial kingdom.  Both are after death.”

Neither of these passages suggests the parousia in the air as the time or place.

(3) The statements of the Lord as to His dealing with His own servants at His return, contemplate that His enemies will be called before Him immediately after He will have dealt with His own household: But these mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me’ (Lk. 19: 27).  Hither,’ that is, to the same spot where He had just been dealing with His servants.  This, as to servants then alive on earth at least, excludes the parousia in the air, for His enemies will not be gathered there.

(4) Luke 16: 19-31.  Dives and Lazarus are seen [in ‘Hades] directly after death in conditions the exact reverse of those just before known on earth.  The passing of the soul to that other world, and the bringing about of so thorough a change of condition, is too striking, too solemn just to happen.  Some one must have decided and ordered this reversal; that is, there must have been a judging of their cases and a judicial decision as to what should be their lot in the intermediate state.

This judgment therefore may take place at or immediately after death, as Heb. 9: 27 above.  And in the time of Christ thus almost all men believed.  See, for example, the judgment of Ani directly after death, before Osiris the god of the underworld, in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  Or, as to the Pharisees, to whom particularly Christ spoke of Dives and Lazarus, see Josephus, Antiquities, 18. 3.

(5) 2 Tim. 4: 6, 7, 8.  I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is come.  I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith; I have finished the course, henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved His appearing.’

Paul was now certain he had won his crown.  When writing to the Philippians a few years before (3: 10-14) he spoke uncertainly: not that I have already obtained,’ for then he had not yet finished the course; but now he writes with certainty.  How could this assurance have become his save by communication from the Righteous Judge?  But this implies that the Judge had both formed and communicated His decision upon Paul’s life and service, even though Paul had not yet actually died.  In such a case, as it would seem, any session of the judgment seat in that day will be only for bestowment of the crown already won and allotted, not for adjudication upon the race or contest, the latter having before taken place as to such a person.

(6) The expression I have finished my course is taken from the athletic world which held so large a place in Greek life and interest and is so often used by Paul as a picture of spiritual effort.  In 1 Cor. 9: 24-27, it is used as a plain warning that the coveted prize may be lost.  Phil. 3: 12-14 employs it to urge to intense and unremitting effort to win that prize.  The Lord is the righteous Judge, sitting to adjudicate upon each contestant in the race or contest.

Now of unavoidable necessity the judge of the games automatically formed his decision as to each racer or wrestler as each finished the course or the contest.  The giving of the prizes was indeed deferred to the close of the whole series of events: Paul’s crown would be actually given in that day; but not till then did the judge defer his decision as to each item or contestant.  It could not be, for the most celebrated of the Greek games, the Olympic, lasted five days.

The figure, taken with the case of Paul, and in the light of Dives and Lazarus, suggests a decision of the Lord as to each believer before or at the time of his death.  That decision issues in determining the place and experience of the man in the intermediate state, and may extend to assurance that he has won the crown, the prize of the high calling.

(7) Rev. 6: 9, 11, The Fifth Seal.  As before shown, these martyrs under the altar are not yet raised from the dead, for others have yet to be killed for Christ’s sake, and only then will they be all vindicated and avenged.  But to each one of them separately a white robe is given.  Now ch. 3: 4, 5, shows that the white robe is the visible sign, conferred by the Lord, of their worthiness to be His companions in His glory and [millennial] kingdom.  This again makes evident that for these the Lord’s judgment has been formed and announced.  No later adjudication upon such is needful or conceivable; only the giving of the crown in that day.’

11.  From these facts and considerations it seems fairly clear that the judgment of the Lord upon the dead of His people is not deferred to one session but is reached and declared either (a) immediately before death (as Paul), when there is no further risk of the racer failing, or (b) immediately after death (as Lazarus), or (c) at least in the intermediate state of death (the souls under the altar).

If this is so, then it will follow that the decision of the Lord as to whether a [regenerate] believer is worthy of the first resurrection and reigning in the kingdom is reached prior to resurrection, in which case the two insoluble problems above stated simply do not arise, that is, there is no question of one raised in a deathless state returning to the death state, nor of bodies of glory being subjected to chastisement.  Believers adjudged not worthy of the first resurrection will not rise, but will remain [in Hades] where they are until the second resurrection.

We agree fully that the judgment seat of Christ will issue in chastisement for unworthy living by Christians, but this will not be inflicted after resurrection.

(8) Rev. 11: 18 repays exact study.  The four and twenty elders worship God because He has put forth His power, His great power (teen dunamin sou teen megaleen) and has exercised His sovereignty.  In consequence of this asserting of power there are five results.  (1) The nations are angry, (2) God’s wrath replies, (3) there arrives the season for the dead to be judged,’ (4) for the faithful to be rewarded, and (5) for the destruction of the destroyers of the earth.

Since prophets and saints are to receive their reward at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14: 14), the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 1-6), the season for the dead to be judged and rewarded is here found directly before the destruction of the Antichrist and his helpers in the wasting of the lands.

Concerning this judging of the dead three features are to be noted.

1.  It must be of godly dead, for it is before the thousand years, whereas the judgment of the ungodly dead is thereafter (Rev. 20: 5, 11-15).

2. It is a judgment of persons who are dead at the time they are judged.  There is no ground for reading in that they have been raised from the dead before the judgment takes place.  They are styled ‘the dead.’  No one would think of styling living persons the dead.’  The term employed (nekros) is nowhere used of persons who are not actually dead, physically or morally.  Moreover, resurrection  does not of itself assure life.  That unique and glorious change to be the portion of such as share the first resurrection (1 Cor. 15) is their special privilege; it does not attach to all resurrection.  Dead persons can be raised dead.  In John 5: 29 our Lord creates a clear contrast: ‘They that have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto resurrection of judgment.’  The Lord did not say that they shall come forth out of the tombs alive, but that they shall come forth unto resurrection of lifeor unto resurrection of judgment (eis anastasin).  There seems no scripture, indeed, that at the moment they come forth they have even a body, other than that psychical counterpart before noticed and which persists in the death state.

Thus in Rev. 20: 12 also it is as dead that they are judged: I saw the dead standing before the throne ... and the dead were judged.’  It should therefore be supposed that those there present whose names are found in the book of life will thereupon be restored to life, that is, will be given an immortal body; even as the Lord said: The Father raiseth the dead (egeirei tous nekrous) and makes them live (zoopoiei), thus also the Son makes to live whom He will(zoopoiei, John 5: 21).  Here two operations are distinguished by the ‘and makes them live.’

3. The verb to be judged, the season of the dead to be judged,’ is the infinitive passive aorist (kritheenai).  Being an aorist it has the force of a completed and final action.  But this final judgment, which disposes of the case, may be the conclusion of a process of judgment.  This is seen in another place where this aorist is twice used, Acts 25: 9, 10.  Festus asked Paul whether he would be willing to go up from Caesarea to Jerusalem there to be judged of these things before me.’  Paul answered that he already stood before Caesar’s court where I ought to be judged (kritheenai).  Both Festus and Paul meant that a final verdict should be reached and the case be determined; hence the aorist.   But the history shows that Paul had been many times before the courts, twice before the Sanhedrin and several times before Felix (Acts 23 and 24).  Thus this passage in Rev. 11: 18, does not forbid that believers may have been before judged by Christ, either in this life or after death, or both; what it states is that at the season indicated the decision of the Lord will be given, announcing, as we suggest, whether the person is of the ‘blessed and holy’ who are ‘accounted worthy’ of the impending resurrection [out] from among the dead and of place and reward in the kingdom then about to be inaugurated.

This short discussion is no more than suggestive, directed to certain obscurities and perplexities found in our main theme, designed to provoke enquiry so as further to elucidate truth and dispel darkness.  May the Lord in grace use it to this end.





* To the judicial mind - Mr. Clark was a Resident Magistrate in Jamaica - the Scriptures dealing with our responsibility, unutterably solemn yet unutterably just - naturally make a powerful appeal.  On such passages as Matt. 18: 34, 35 Sir W. Robertson Nicoll said, as strikingly as truly:-The Christian Church has never fairly faced these words.’


The real reason underlying the refusal of some dear children of God to accept belief in the punishment of unfaithful believers - not eternal, but during the millennial reign of Christ - is an inadequate sense of the justice of God.

God’s justice has been described as ‘The dark line in God’s face,’ and this dark line cannot be left out.  It is false to reason and to revelation, and it is degrading to God’s character to erase the line.  His infinite inflexible justice declares that God has no caprice, that He will not trifle with a wrong, nor softly indulge even His Own and His dearest.  It declares that God is unswervingly just and impartially righteous toward all men.  We can look up at that dark line and see its beauty.  We can see that justice is a nobler attribute in God than easy generosity.  We can see that Mercy and Love are not to be exercised at the cost of Justice, and we are hushed and awed, and yet tranquil, because He is too just to do what our sin-excusing hearts might do – clear the guilty.’  We can trust His absolute justice to weigh all the circumstances of each man’s life and do what is just.  His justice is actuated by His wrath at sin and His passionate desire for holiness.  And reckonest thou, 0 man,’ who sins, whether thou be a saved child of God, or an unbeliever, ‘that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?’ (Rom. 2: 3).

It is the same inadequate sense of God’s justice that refuses to admit that the unprofitable ‘servant’ ‘cast into the outer darkness’ not Gehenna, the hell of fire, but somewhere, not revealed, outside the bright millennial Kingdom - is a believer, notwithstanding the fact that he is spoken of as one of His Lord’s own servants (R.V.), entrusted with His goods during His absence, and described by exactly the same term as the faithful servant; and so in the Parable of the Pounds called a ‘servant’ in contradistinction to the Lord’s enemies, who would not that He should reign over them’ (Luke 19: 27).  Alas, that it should be true that Christians, as stated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10. and as we know by sad experience, are guilty of heinous sins.  Would God’s justice be satisfied if they escaped punishment in this life, as they undoubtedly often do, and immediately afterwards be rewarded with a place in Christ’s [millennial] Kingdom?  Acceptance of the belief in the temporary punishment of such Christians during the Millennial Reign safeguards the Eternal merits of Christ’s atonement on the Cross, and, at the same time, preserves the absolute Justice of God.  A contrary belief might well turn a Calvinist into an Arminian, to the abandonment of the truth of the final perseverance of the saints: on the contrary, such a belief would set at rest the doubts of many a sincere Arminian in the eternal standing of Believers.









Calvin has packed into a sentence the Scripture doctrine of reward:-There is no inconsistency in saying that God rewards good works, provided we understand that, nevertheless, men obtain eternal life gratuitously.”  For one passage of Paul states reward with the limpid clearness of a crystal.  If any [disciple] build on the foundation [of Christ] ‘gold - ingots of gold - silver - silver bullion - precious stones- marbles, jaspers, alabasters - wood, hay, stubble - boards, chopped hay for mortar, thatch - each [disciple’s] work shall be made manifest; for the fire itself shall prove the work of each - not purge, for the inflammable perishes; nor punish, for the gold is equally searched; but prove, test, discriminate the structure for exactly what it is.  If any [disciple’s] work shall abide, he shall receive a reward; that is, all reward is confined to work that survives judgment: if any [disciple’s] work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss - a loss the degree and duration of which is not here defined: but he himself shall be saved - for [eternal] salvation is through faith wholly independent of works before or after conversion; yet so as through fire’ (1 Cor. 3: 12) - through burning embers and showers of failing sparks, as he flees down a corridor of flame.  The sprayed fire, sweeping and searching the entire discipleship, exactly determines what can be rewarded.  Singed and scorched as by an escape out of a burning ruin’ (Stanley), he ‘saves nothing but his bare life’ (Lange) in the crash of his life-structure, the collapse of his whole discipleship.



Now it is exceedingly remarkable that in the heart of the great Grace chapter of the Bible, the truth that a Christian’s reward is exclusively determined by his own fidelity lies deeply embedded.  Working,” as Calvin has said, ‘is not at all opposed to grace.’  For if, by the trespass of the one [Adam], death reigned through the one; much more - as much more as God loves to reward His servants more than He loves to reward His enemies - shall they that receive- take constantly, take continuously; not grace, but - the abundance of grace - its superabundance, so that the superfluity overflows (Godet) reign in life’ (Rom. 5: 17) - life,’ a limited phrase used in the Gospels (Mark 9: 43, 45, 47) as a synonym for the Millennial Kingdom.  So far from reward undermining grace, it is the abundance of grace which alone entitles to reward: grace confers justification as a free gift; but only the abundance of grace, deliberately and continuously received, qualifies for glory with Christ, in the Life that is life indeed.  Grace underlies all: in the beautiful words of Augustine, - “To whom could the righteous Judge give the crown if the merciful Father had not given grace? and how could these be paid as things due, were not things not due previously given?”  For Grace, while it grants salvation solely on the merits of our Lord, cannot ignore our conduct after regeneration; and every instinct of our hearts calls for justice, after the painful controversies that have rent the Church for two thousand years, before eternal bliss shall pass an obliterating sponge over the past “in that all-reconciling world where Luther and Zwingle are well agreed.” And so Paul asserts.  But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of God: let us not therefore judge one another an more’ (Rom. 14: 10); but, while rigidly adhering to all the truth we know, hand over all judgment to an august and awful Tribunal not our own.



For we now arrive at the central fact of all - the Judgment Seat.  Wherefore we make it our aim - the word means to love and seek for honour (Lange) in what Bengel calls the sole legitimate ambition in the world - to be well-pleasing unto Him; for - as the fountain of motive in all holy ambition - we must - as a necessity inherent in Divine justice; for the vindication of God’s holiness, and for the satisfaction of our own highest and holiest instincts – all- no believer is exempt, not even Paul - be made manifest - to our own consciences, to all the   world, and above all to the Judge; a complete manifestation of all that has transpired within us, or in the external life (Lange) - ‘before the    Judgment Seat of Christ; that each one may receive - the technical word for receiving wages (Dean Alford) - the things done in the body - therefore thoughts and words as well as deeds, since the brain and the tongue are thus also involved – according to the things that<