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Bangor landlord on harassment charge over house tenant

Bangor landlord Matthew Betty, who is originally from Wales
Bangor landlord Matthew Betty, who is originally from Wales

By Paul Higgins

This is the landlord who has been ordered to stand trial in the Crown Court accused of harassing a tenant and causing her to leave her home.

When Matthew Betty stands in the dock of Downpatrick Crown Court in the New Year, it will be the first time a landlord has been prosecuted in the highest court in the land and only the third time a landlord here has been accused of harassment.

Betty, from Ty Pwca Place, Gwent in Wales, faces a total of five charges - one alleging unlawful harassment of an occupier and four of causing a tenant to leave.

It is alleged that between December 1, 2018 and May 7 this year, Betty had the water supply cut off, attended personally at the Bangor house and intimidated the occupants, as well as encouraging others to do so, and had sent an email, which was copied to a wide range of recipients including a multitude of housing associations, part-headed "undesirable tenants/animal neglect/child welfare concerns".

There were several methods of behaviour allegedly used to deprive the tenants of their lawfully occupied Bangor residence.

On February 20, it is alleged Betty encouraged, facilitated or arranged for two young males to attend the property, where they verbally intimidated and harassed the young daughter of the tenant with regards to alleged rent arrears.

On April 12, he is accused of attending the Bangor property without notice, banged repeatedly on the door, shouted at and intimidated a child who was alone in the house, thus causing her fear and distress.

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During a short preliminary enquiry last week, Betty was told that although not obliged to, he had the right to comment on the charges or to call evidence on his behalf but he declined the opportunity.

District Judge Mark Hamill returned the case to Downpatrick Crown Court for trial and freeing Betty on £500 bail, ordered him to appear at the higher court for his arraignment on January 9.

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