Belfast Telegraph

Hammer murderer Paul Greatbanks loses appeal over vicious bar stool attack

A man who bludgeoned his neighbour to death with a hammer failed today in a bid to overturn his conviction for a separate barroom attack weeks earlier.

Paul Greatbanks is already serving a minimum 16-year jail term for killing Paddy Harkin in Derry in February 2011.

But he went to the Court of Appeal to challenge a majority verdict that he smashed a stool into the skull of another man in December 2010.

The 48-year-old, originally from Kent in England, was given 18 months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

A successful appeal would not have impacted on his life sentence for Mr Harkin's murder.

However, it could have benefited him if and when he does seek parole.

He had been found guilty of attacking a taxi driver who was enjoying a pint with friends at a bar in the city.

Greatbanks allegedly lifted a stool and brought it down on his head in a rage at the group muscling in on his table.

He claimed to have acted in self-defence after being called an "English b******" and hearing references to Bloody Sunday.

He said he felt threatened and, fearing an attack, reacted instinctively by throwing the barstool.

Greatbanks' lawyers challenged that conviction by arguing that the trial judge misdirected the jury on two points.

They claimed it was wrong to let jurors consider the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when the prosecution had argued the case as causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Secondly, they took issue with the charge given on unanimous and majority verdicts.

But a three-judge panel sitting in the Court of Appeal rejected both arguments.

Lord Justice Coghlin said: "We have not been persuaded by the grounds of appeal advanced, either separately or in combination, that this conviction is in any respect unsafe and, accordingly, the appeal must be dismissed."

Greatbanks, who sat head in hand for most of the ruling, was led away in handcuffs to be returned to prison.

Less than two months after the pub attack the Englishman battered Mr Harkin to death and left a second man permanently disabled.

Greatbanks had returned to his Bayview Terrace flat and armed himself with a claw hammer after being ejected from another pub in the city.

He went first to Mr Harkin's apartment in the same complex in Londonderry and beat him to death with the weapon, continuing to inflict blows as the 49-year-old father of one lay unconscious on the floor.

The killer moved on to Letterkenny man Paul Mythen's flat in the block and attacked him with the hammer, causing massive injuries.

A blood-drenched Greatbanks then walked to a nearby police station and told the desk officer he had just killed two men.

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