DUP councillor criticised after suggesting convicted killer's home could attract tourists

Sam Cole said renewed interest in case could bring tour coaches to area

colin howell

The former home of Colin Howell, near Castlerock | Photo: PA Images

A DUP councillor has been criticised for suggesting that the former Derry home of convicted killer Colin Howell could attract tourists to the area.

Howell is currently serving a minimum 21-year sentence for murdering his wife and lover's husband in 1991. He admitted the crime almost two decades later, confessing to gassing the pair.  

Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan were initially believed to have died in a suicide pact. The double murder was portrayed in controversial ITV drama The Secret last month.

Former Coleraine mayor Sam Cole cited renewed interest in the case at a recent local planning committee meeting where he described the Castlerock house as a "focal point".

The DUP councillor made the remarks in support of an application to build on land close to the property.

"Look at what Game of Thrones did for tourism. I can see the same thing with this case,” he subsequently told the Belfast Telegraph.

“I would not rule out the possibility of tour coaches driving up to Colin Howell's old house to see where he made his infamous confession to church elders.”

But an MP within his own party today hit out at the suggestion, saying it does not have the support of the DUP group on the local council or their colleagues in Northern Ireland’s Assembly.

'Exploitation'

MP for East Londonderry Gregory Campbell said: "The murder of Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell to some people may be just another television drama, but we would do well to remember that these were real life events which robbed families of two dearly loved people.

“There have been some suggestions that locations associated with this crime could somehow become tourist attractions given the media attention to both the original events and the television drama associated with them. As the MP for the area this idea does not have my support.  

“The paramount consideration in this has to be the families at the centre of this awful crime, the pain is still raw and no one should seek to exacerbate that. I want to reassure the families that we are conscious of this.

“We will not support anything which would exploit the murders. I hope this can offer some comfort and reassurance to the families who are still trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the awful events."

Colin Howell’s daughter, Lauren Bradford, last month described how the ITV series that recounted her father’s murder had left her traumatised.

”What it comes down to is the powerlessness of families in this situation to have any sort of control over events that shape their lives,” she wrote in the Guardian.

“The culture we live in and its fascination with crime means that someone can write a book or film a drama to make money from someone else’s life and be applauded for it.”