Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Family finally get to say goodbye as murder victim's remains returned

Paddy Harkin who died after being  attacked in his Bayview Terrace flat
Paddy Harkin who died after being attacked in his Bayview Terrace flat

The final remains of a man who was murdered in his flat in Londonderry just over two years ago have been interred in his grave in the city cemetery.

Patrick Harkin (49) was beaten to death in his Bayview Terrace flat on February 20, 2011.

The remains, understood to include Mr Harkin's skull and brain tissue, had been retained by the Coroner's office as part of the investigation into his death.

Earlier this month Englishman Paul Greatbanks (48), also from Bayview Terrace in Derry, pleaded guilty to beating the father-of-one to death with a hammer.

Greatbanks received an automatic life sentence after his guilty plea.

The sentence tariff he is to receive for the murder will be announced on April 12.

Another man, 41-year-old Paul Mythen from Letterkenny in Co Donegal, who was critically injured when he was also attacked in his Bayview Terrace flat on the same date by Greatbanks, is still receiving medical treatment for his head injuries.

Following his murder just over two years ago, Mr Harkin was buried in Derry's city cemetery.

However, as part of the forensic evidence in the case against Greatbanks, some of his body parts were retained by the Coroner's office in case of further need during the trial process.

His brother John had said the family had been through years of anguish as they could not complete the burial.

He said: "Because of the horrific injuries to Paddy the police have had parts of his body, held by the forensic team, until after the trial and they include his head.

"We will have to bury the rest of Paddy once his remains are released back to us and that has been one of the most difficult aspects of this nightmare.

"We were never able to talk about this before. That's hard information to have to keep to yourself. For us Paddy hasn't been laid to rest yet. He is still not at peace."

However, earlier this week they were finally released to the Harkin family and, at a special blessing ceremony yesterday, the body parts were interred in Mr Harkin's grave, completing the burial.

The murder victim's sister Lucy Barrow, said it was an emotional week for her family after the Coroner's office returned her brother's remains to them in a small wooden box with a brass plaque.

"We just wanted to lay Patrick to rest on Good Friday so that he can finally rest in peace," she said.

"But we won't have full closure until we're satisfied Patrick's killer will never leave prison again.

"We want to see that Greatbanks rots in hell for what he has done to our family."

Four PSNI officers were disciplined following an investigation by the Police Ombudsman office which found they had failed to fully investigate an earlier assault by Greatbanks two months before he murdered Mr Harkin and critically injured Mr Mythen.

One of the officers was subsequently dismissed.

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