Published Friday, 09 November 2012
Hazel Stewart, pictured at Coleraine Courthouse in March 2011. (© Pacemaker)
Senior judges ruled on Friday that the appeal case against Stewart's guilty verdict will be heard in January over the course of one day.
The 49-year-old former Sunday School teacher is serving a minimum of 18 years in prison for plotting with Howell, with whom she was having an affair, to kill both their spouses 21 years ago.
For nearly 20 years, it had been believed that the victims - Constable Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell - died in a suicide pact in Castlerock.
It was only when Howell confessed that the whole story emerged, revealing how they had been murdered and their apparent suicides staged.
He also implicated Stewart in the plot and, after pleading guilty himself, gave evidence against her during her trial.
During those proceedings, the prosecution made the case that Stewart knew about the murder plans in advance, actively facilitated her husband's killing by ensuring he was drugged and allowing Howell into her home, and disposed of evidence including the hose pipe used to gas the victims.
While Howell is serving at least 21 years in jail, Stewart has already undergone psychiatric examinations and psychological assessments while in Hydebank in a bid to overturn her conviction.
A barrister for Stewart told the Court of Appeal on Friday that the medical experts' findings had been submitted to the defence and discussed with Stewart in prison.
"The appellant has raised some factual matters in relation to the reports which the appellant feels are important and need to be clarified and resolved," he said.
Stewart's legal team are still considering whether to seek to have fresh evidence admitted in their Court of Appeal challenge and have now been given another month to make their decision.
Northern Ireland's most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, fixed the appeal date for Monday 21 January.
© UTV News