Double-killer Hazel Stewart’s pension battle put on hold

Hazel Stewart pictured in 2011.
Hazel Stewart pictured in 2011.

Convicted double killer Hazel Stewart’s High Court battle over police pension benefits inherited from her murdered first husband has been put on hold.

Crimefighters are seeking an order for her to repay funds she gained following the death of Trevor Buchanan.

But a trial hearing listed for later this month was vacated yesterday amid ongoing attempts to secure legal aid for the former Sunday School teacher to defend the action.

Stewart, 51, is serving a minimum 18-year jail sentence for murdering Constable Buchanan, 32, and 31-year-old Lesley Howell, the wife of her ex-lover Colin Howell.

She is also now facing civil proceedings brought by the National Crime Agency.

The case is understood to centre on finances which have since been tied up in her family home.

Her second husband, retired police superintendent David Stewart, has been named as a joint respondent.

There is no suggestion whatsoever of any wrongdoing by Mr Stewart.

Although a judge was due to hear the action within weeks, a dispute has emerged over Hazel Stewart’s application for legal aid.

Checks are carried out on the finances and earnings of anyone applying for funding, and partners they live with.

But the Legal Services Commission was said to have failed to consider her prisoner status.

The bid to recover money from Stewart comes as she continues to prepare a second attempt to clear her name.

Her legal team has sent her case to a body which examines potential miscarriages of justice.

They want the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to refer her conviction for the murder of Lesley Howell back to the Court of Appeal.

Separate efforts are also being made to overturn a verdict that she killed Trevor Buchanan as part of the same plot.

The mother-of-two’s lawyers intend to introduce fresh psychiatric and psychological evidence.

They also want to raise disclosure issues connected to another potential witness.