Killer wins right to pursue payout
A convicted killer and rapist who was moved from an open prison to tougher jail conditions has been given the go-ahead to continue his legal battle for compensation.
The claim for thousands of pounds in damages by Alan Houchin, 74, one of the UK's longest-serving prisoners, was stopped in its tracks earlier this year when a High Court judge in London ruled it had "no real prospect of success". But Houchin won permission to appeal against the judge's decision to strike out his claim.
Permission was granted by Lord Justice Beatson, sitting at the Court of Appeal in London. The challenge by Houchin against the April decision of Mr Justice Supperstone will now be heard by a panel of three appeal judges at a date to be fixed.
Houchin was jailed for life in 1965 for strangling a 16-year-old waitress in Margate, Kent. He was released on licence after serving 11 years.
Three years later, in 1979, he was jailed for nine years for raping a 19-year-old shop assistant in Folkestone, Kent. The total sentence rose to 10 years and three months after suspended sentences for other unrelated offences were activated. Parole in connection with his initial life sentence was formally revoked.
In April 2006 he was transferred to open conditions at HMP North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire after the risk he posed to the public was assessed as "medium". But by October that year the assessment rose to "high", and then in April 2008 to "very high" and he was transferred the following month to closed conditions at Lincoln Prison.
Mr Justice Supperstone's ruling was that Lincolnshire Probation Trust was entitled to an order striking out Houchin's compensation claim against it.
Houchin was transferred to Lindholme open prison in May 2012 after winning a separate legal action over the Justice Secretary's refusal to accept the Parole Board's recommendation that he be returned to open conditions.
He is now at Leyhill open prison in Gloucestershire.