Camden Ripper: Killer’s home for rent

Camden New Journal, 19 February, 2004

THE council flat dubbed ‘The House f Horrors’ where three women were murdered by serial killer Anthony Hardy is to be re-let despite protests from angry tenants.

Number 4 Hartland House on the College Place Estate in Royal College Street, Camden Town, will be refurbished and re-let within the next two months.

The successful applicant will have a “medical priority”, the Town Hall confirmed yesterday (Wednesday).

But upset neighbours have begun a petition urging Camden to rethink their plans to re-let the property.

Many want a previous idea to convert the house into a caretaker’s office to be revived. Other suggestions have included turning the flat into a shrine to the murder victims.

Hardy, 53, nicknamed ‘the Camden Ripper’, dismembered the bodies of two of his three victims inside the one-bedroom flat. He was arrested in January 2003 following the discovery of body parts in nearby bins, and three months ago was jailed for life.

Rumours began engulfing the estate about what would happen to the flat last week but up until Tuesday Camden’s housing boss Councillor Hedges was insisting no decision had been made.

He said: “It could be months away. We haven’t sat down and talked about it yet but there will have to be careful discussions. I am in two minds because it is a tragedy but it is also a tragedy that there is a one-bedroom flat that we can’t use when we need it.”

But in a fast-moving change of events, housing bosses released details of their final decision late yesterday afternoon (Wednesday).

Gerri Scott, Camden’s Assistant Director of Housing, said: “It has been a difficult decision to relet 4 Hartland but we had to balance residents’ understandable anxieties with the huge housing need in the borough.”

Unlike the Soham home of child killer Ian Huntley and the Gloucester house lived in by serial murderer Fred West, which have both been bulldozed, the flat is positioned in a central part of the estate and can not be demolished.

Ms Scott added: “We will be gutting the flat completely and will arrange for residents of the block to view once the works are complete.”
Cllr Hedges said the council would work with a local church to have the house blessed.

The decision, however, has met with unrest.

June Gentleman, a former neighbour of Hardy who was sent a poison pen letter by the killer, said: “I would be appalled if they re-let the flat to somebody else. After seeing the pictures of what it was like inside, I don’t think I could handle seeing someone living there again.”
Before Hardy’s tenancy began in 2000, the flat was the home of an elderly woman who lived peacefully in the block for 30 years. But, still boarded up with corrugated iron, the flat has become an undying symbol of the murderer’s gruesome killing spree.

“I would rather they tear it down than have another tenant move in,” said Mrs Gentleman. “We can’t go through all of this again. We are still having to live with this.”

Police have spent the past year forensically analysing the flat have removed floorboards and all fixtures and fittings.

Detectives, who have not ruled out the possibility that Hardy has killed other women and are still researching the holes in his background, used special chemicals to analyse large blood stains found in the flat. They returned the flat to Camden on February 4.

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