Belfast Telegraph

Rapist tenant shock

Two years to take back beast's flat

A CAGED sex-beast - who subjected a woman to a sickening rape ordeal - has finally handed over the keys of the Housing Executive from which he launched the attack - TWO YEARS later.

A CAGED sex-beast - who subjected a woman to a sickening rape ordeal - has finally handed over the keys of the Housing Executive from which he launched the attack - TWO YEARS later.

William Harbinson had refused to hand back the keys to the flat he occupied at Knock Eden Crescent, in south Belfast - even though he's in JAIL.

It was only last Monday, that the monster, who also assaulted and robbed the woman, surrendered the keys to the flat, where he lived alone.

But it has taken a year of negotiations through the Probation Board to force the sex-beast to hand over the keys - and ease the nightmare of neighbours that he would return to the quiet complex.

Legal proceedings were started by the Housing Executive in January, to evict Harbinson from the property.

But it would have been early next year before the eviction application could be heard, because of the backlog of cases at the County Court.

For the last 12 months - while he served the first year of his sentence at Maghaberry Prison - Social Security paid rent on the vacant flat, preventing it being reallocated.

The executive would only say last week: "The Housing Executive has successfully resolved this matter and the tenancy has now been terminated."

Behind the brief statement lies 12 months of tortuous negotiations through the Probation Board, according to prison sources.

One complication is understood to have been Harbinson's earlier intention to purchase the property, before he was convicted of rape in November last year.

It's understood that, even after his appeal against conviction was dismissed in January, he still refused to relinquish the tenancy - leaving the Executive with little option, but to seek an eviction order in the County Court.

South Belfast MP The Rev Martin Smyth said the episode illustrated how public money was wasted, because of regulations and legal requirements.

He said: "I'm glad the flat can now be reallocated, but I think we must look at a more expedient way of ending tenancies, when people are convicted, sentenced and conclude appeal procedures."

When he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment on two rape counts in November, last year, Judge Anthony Hart placed Harbinson on the sex offenders register for life, because of the danger he poses to women.

However, under the current prison rules and regulations, which allow 50pc remission, Harbinson can be eligible for release in 2009.

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