Family’s plea to ‘stay away’ from killer

Raymond and John Harkin pictured with a photograph of their brother. (0803SL07) Photo: Stephen Latimer
Raymond and John Harkin pictured with a photograph of their brother. (0803SL07) Photo: Stephen Latimer

The family of a murdered man pleaded with him to stay away from his killer months before his death, the ‘Journal’ has learned.

Paul Greatbanks was jailed for life this week after he pleaded guilty to the murder of his neighbour Paddy Harkin (49.

The murdered man’s brother said yesterday that Paddy, who lived in the same block of flats as Greatbanks at Bayview Terrace in the city, had been urged to “get away” from his neighbour.

“We knew Greatbanks was an evil person and we said to Paddy many’s a time to get away from him. Paddy had put in for a flat with the Housing Executive but it was too late. We knew something would happen, I had told Paddy that he’d be hurt or killed by him. It was only a matter of time.”

It was also revealed this week that four police officers in Derry were disciplined after the police ombudsman “uncovered failures” in the way a case involving an allegation of assault by Greatbanks on another man in the weeks prior to Mr Harkin’s murder had been progressed and supervised. The police ombudsman’s report states that officers did not pursue an investigation into the allegations until after Mr Harkin’s murder.

John Harkin believes his brother “would be alive today” had the police arrested Greatbanks on foot of the assault allegation. “Four police officers have been suspended but that will not bring our Paddy back,” he said.

The murdered man’s five brothers and six sisters will attend Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, next month when a minimum prison term is to be set for Greatbanks.

At the court on Tuesday, a defence lawyer asked for the charges to be put again to Greatbanks (48), and he pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Harkin on February 20, 2011.

Greatbanks, whose address was given as Maghaberry Prison, also admitted the attempted murder of Letterkenny man Paul Mythen (39) in the same incident.

No details of the murder were given on Monday.

Mr Harkin, a married father of one, died from head injuries.