Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

The face of a killer: Man jailed for life for neighbour murder

Paul Greatbanks
Paul Greatbanks

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of his neighbour in flats situated just yards from the police station where he handed himself in while covered in blood.

Paul Greatbanks (48) pleaded guilty to the horrific murder of Londonderry man Patrick Harkin in 2011.

No details were given at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, yesterday but previous courts have heard that Greatbanks lived in the flat below where 49-year-old Mr Harkin was found dead at Bayview Terrace, close to Strand Road PSNI station.

His bloodstained body was found minutes after a man –believed to be Greatbanks – left the flat and ran across the road and into the PSNI station.

At the time, sources described him as "drenched from head to toe in blood".

The body of Mr Harkin, a married father-of-one originally from the Creggan area, was found in Flat 4C with fatal head wounds, most likely from a hammer or a similar blunt instrument.

Mr Harkin's son Sean was just 11 at the time of his murder. Normally, he would have been in the flat at the time his father was killed, but had gone out to a party.

"Paddy was a beautiful individual who worked and lived to provide the best life he could for his son Sean," said John Harkin, Paddy's brother, after the attack.

When his lawyer asked for the charges to be put to Greatbanks again, the defendant, whose address was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, also admitted trying to murder Letterkenny man Paul Mythen (39) in the same incident. Mr Mythen, a well-known film-maker and musician, sustained head wounds separately in his nearby flat.

Mr Harkin was highly regarded in his community, and had helped with vulnerable people, particularly those with alcohol problems.

Although the alarm had been raised at around 1.30am on Sunday, February 20, 2011, police were unable to interview the suspect until 9pm that day when he was deemed fit to be questioned by detectives.

When he was in court three days later, crowds heckled and jeered Greatbanks, who had a black eye in the dock.

Following the guilty pleas, Mr Justice Horner told Englishman Greatbanks there was only one sentence permitted by law – life imprisonment.

He told the killer that he would fix the minimum period he must spend behind bars next month, once pre-sentence probation and victim impact reports have been compiled.

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