Killer’s hostel removed from Edinburgh homeless housing list

Kevin Rooney
Kevin Rooney
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A HOMELESS hostel where the brutal killer of an Edinburgh grandmother was housed has been axed from the Capital’s list of temporary accommodation providers.

Housing bosses will no longer use Wendy Halstead’s bed and breakfast in Longstone Road, where killer Kevin Rooney was placed only days before he raped and murdered 74-year-old gran and mother-of-five Rosina Sutherland.

At the time of the murder, Rooney was on bail and had 36 convictions spanning a decade.

The News revealed how the scandal prompted a wave of revulsion and calls for it to be closed. Today, housing leader Cammy Day confirmed it is no longer on the council list.

“The premises are no longer used for temporary accommodation purposes,” he said.

Residents in Longstone Road have been sent letters from the council confirming the move, but it is now subject of an application for a new house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence.

Neighbouring residents, however, have said they will continue calling for Ms Halstead’s licence to be scrapped.

Phyllis Bremner, 80, said she was originally told the property would be used to house the homeless, not criminals. She said: “I was totally misled when that place first opened.”

She insisted she would not be signing a letter from the council giving her the option of dropping her objection to the B&B’s HMO licence.

“I would be loathe to sign it,” she said. “We were told the B&B would be for homeless people, not ex-prisoners, and that it would be very temporary.

“We were misled the first time and I am really not happy about what’s happening now. The B&B should become a private dwelling.”

Neighbour Maureen Paterson, 65, said there were elderly people in the area who were still frightened after Ms Sutherland’s horrific murder and a spate of other incidents.

In August, two occupants were hospitalised when a man blew up his bedroom after sniffing cans of gas before lighting a cigarette.

Ms Paterson said the council would have to station a 24-hour warden at the B&B before she would consider dropping her objection.

She said: “When it first opened, a gentleman from the council assured us that it would be properly supervised but then all those things happened.

“Given things didn’t work back then, why should we have any hope that taking the house off a list is likely to keep things safe this time?”

City housing bosses said Ms Halstead’s application to renew her property’s HMO licence would be considered by the council’s regulatory committee.

The Evening News contacted Ms Halstead but she was not available for comment.

Rooney, 26, attacked Rosina Sutherland after ransacking her property in October 2011. He raped her, hit her on the head and body, and restricted her breathing before fleeing with her walking stick, the keys to her home and £400. In June, he was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years behind bars.