The UK's fastest-growing regional news network
14°C | 6°C
16°C | 10°C
16°C | 8°C
See the full forecast for your area.
Sponsored by Britelite.
Home Dartford News Article
A killer rapist freed after 46 years behind bars has been driven from his new home in Kent by vigilantes.
Alan Houchin, who was one of Britain's longest-serving prisoners, moved in with old flame Mary Griggs in Swanley after his release last month.
The 75-year-old was jailed for life in 1965 for murdering 16-year-old waitress Shona "Toni" Berry in Margate and raped a 19-year-old girl in 1979 when he was freed early on licence.
Prison reports from just two years ago said he could still pose a danger and locals started a Facebook campaign to force him out of Swanley.
Houchin was sharing a semi-detached home with 54-year-old Griggs – who also uses the surname Williams – in a cul-de-sac close to a primary school.
But neighbours said he had to flee the house on Friday night as teenagers threw stones at the windows and damaged the front door at around 9pm.
Local Elsie Dighton, 73, said: "They've had teenagers coming round throwing stones at the house at all hours of the day.
"They shout at her, but she gives as good as she gets and shouts back at them. She came home this weekend to find her door had been damaged.
"He then had to leave on Friday because of all the abuse - I'm not sure if he'll come back or not.
"And there are elderly people on one side and young kids on the other side who probably won't be able to sleep because of all the disruption."
Mrs Griggs has told how she plans to marry Houchin in August.
Local Llowes Frost posted on Facebook: "The sooner we get this monster out the better.
"I normally advocate letting children out to play. But until Alan Houchin and his partner Mary Williams are gone from Swanley please keep your children in. He is a very dangerous man. Please everyone be vigilant."
She posted a further comment earlier the same day, which said: "Get this monster out of our town before he rapes or kills anyone else.
"I feel sick that he is coming to live here and Mary Williams is also sick to be with a monster like that."
Houchin escaped the death penalty by just a week when he was jailed in 1965 – just seven days after capital punishment was abolished.
The steely-eyed killer was convicted of the murder of 16 year-old waitress Shona, who was strangled in Margate.
He was released on licence in 1976 after serving 11 years, but three years later raped a 19-year-old and his life sentence was reimposed.
In April 1993, he slipped his guards during a compassionate hospital visit to see his sick father and was on the run for two weeks with police describing him as "dangerous".
Kent Police insisted Houchin was not living in Swanley and was staying in a different area of the county.
Chief Inspector Mark Hutcheon said: "I can understand this situation has raised some people's concerns.
"Community police officers and police community support officers are in the area today to provide reassurance.
"The officers will be available to talk to any local people who might have concerns, so please do feel free to approach them.
"I would also warn that we will not tolerate any act that causes fear, intimidation or harassment or appears to be targeted at any private homes, and will take action against anyone who does so."
Twice-married Houchin spent the last part of his marathon stretch at Leyhill open prison in Gloucestershire and was finally released on licence in March.
Houchin, speaking from the council house in Swanley last week, claimed that people have become "rude" since he left prison.
He said: "The biggest change I've found since I've been in jail is in people. Everyone is me, me, me.
"There are no manners anymore. People are so rude, they bang into and push past you. The sense of community has gone.
"On one of my first town visits I went to a supermarket, opened the door for a woman and she said, 'I'm quite capable of doing it myself.'"
Stories you might have missed
Click here for more news from Dartford.
Click here for more news from around the county.