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Convicted killer evicted from public housing

Rebecca Massey.

Rebecca Massey. Photo: Graham Tidy

Jailed killer Rebecca Anne Massey has been evicted from her northside public housing home, despite taking her fight against conviction to the highest court in the land.

A tribunal terminated the tenancy agreement and gave Massey until last Monday to vacate the premises.

Massey is serving a 16-year jail term, with a non-parole period of 10 years, for the murder of Elizabeth Booshand in July 2008.

Bad blood between the pair erupted into a confrontation outside a chicken shop in Charnwood and it continued in an adjacent alley.

Ms Booshand was fatally stabbed during the clash, but Massey’s lawyers maintained their client acted in self-defence.

Massey was found guilty of the murder by an ACT Supreme Court jury after a month-long trial in 2011.

A bid to have the murder conviction overturned was dismissed in the ACT Court of Appeal in January and Massey has since lodged an application with the High Court for leave to appeal that decision.

That application is expected to be heard in August.

Bail conditions forced Massey to relinquish her public housing home in Charnwood after she was charged with the murder and lived with her mother for year until the Ngunnawal property became available.

In December 2011, Housing ACT served Massey with termination notice requiring her to vacate the premises by June 2012.

The territory’s commissioner for social housing extended the deadline when Massey lodged an appeal against the conviction and the matter went before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Massey told the tribunal she would apply for bail and live at the Ngunnawal house with her son if the High Court granted her leave to appeal.

Her lawyers also argued  the commissioner breached Massey’s human rights, but the tribunal found it did not have power to judge that claim.

In a judgment published this week, tribunal member Mary-Therese Daniel said Housing ACT had taken all steps required by law to recover possession of the property.

“There had been no declaration by the Supreme Court that any of those steps were unlawful, invalid or of no legal effect,” Ms Daniel said.

“Against this background, I was not satisfied from the evidence and submissions put by the respondent that the making of the order for termination and possession would in any way amount to an unlawful or arbitrary interference with the rights of Ms Massey or her son.

“The premises have for all intents and purposes been vacant for two years - held against the possibility that Ms Massey may be released on bail.”

Ms Daniel also said it was relevant to consider the position of Housing ACT, with more 3000 applicants waiting for public housing in the territory, including almost 300 on the priority list.

“I considered the difficult circumstances Ms Massey and her son would be placed in if it transpires that she is granted bail.

“These difficulties may not arise in the near future - it is entirely possible that Ms Massey will be incarcerated until the end of the non-parole period of her sentence.

“If the difficulties do arise, Ms Massey, if placed on the priority housing list, can be expected to face an approximately 128 day wait before housing is available to her in the area of her choice.”

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