Killer and rapist, 71, seeks compensation from Lincolnshire Probation Trust
A 71-year-old killer and rapist who is one of Britain's longest-serving prisoners is demanding compensation after being moved from an open prison to a tougher jail.
Alan Houchin, who strangled a 16-year-old waitress from Margate, has served all but three of the past 47 years behind bars since he was jailed for life at Kent Assizes in 1965 – just three weeks after the death penalty was abolished.
At London's High Court, he is now seeking "substantial" damages from Lincolnshire Probation Trust after he was "regressed" back to closed conditions from an open prison in May 2008.
But the trust is urging the court to strike out the killer's case, saying the move was for his own good as he was caught in a "Catch 22" situation.
Houchin married and set up a bed-and-breakfast after being released on licence from his original sentence in 1976, but was back behind bars three years later for shoplifting.
While in prison, in 1979, he was convicted of raping a 19-year-old girl – a crime which he continues to deny – and was handed a nine-year sentence on top of his life term.
The court heard it is largely due to his protestations of innocence in relation to that crime, that he remains in jail to this day.
Although he had been transferred to HMP North Sea Camp, an open prison, in 2006, he was moved back to closed conditions at Lincoln Prison in May 2008 after being reclassified as a "high risk".
In 2010 he won a High Court battle to be sent to a lower security jail, with Mr Justice Wilkie ruling the decision to transfer him to Lincoln Prison "unlawful".
The court heard probation staff were concerned about his continued denial of the rape – which was said to have left him in a "Catch 22" situation while in the open prison because work could not be done to address his sex offending.
Urging Mr Justice Supperstone to strike out his claim, lawyers for the trust argued it was entitled to find he posed a risk. However, Houchin's lawyers say that trust staff were "looking to bolster" the case for returning him to closed conditions.
Mr Justice Supperstone has now reserved giving his ruling on the case until an unspecified later date.