Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Thursday, 21 July 2005 13:41 UK

'Haunted house' taken off market

Occult items were found in the house, neighbours claim

The sale of a house in County Londonderry claimed to be haunted has been scuppered by protests by anxious neighbours.

Housing Executive chiefs in Northern Ireland now face demands to flatten the property, which has been derelict since a terrified woman fled eight years ago.

Strange noises have been heard in the house in Moneymore, which, according to local legend, was built on the site of an old horses' graveyard.

Truck driver Brian Marshall, 51, who live opposite, said signs of the occult were also spotted inside and attempts to block out trespassers failed when cement refused to set.

"There's some forces in there that won't allow it to be lived in," he said.

"Whatever it is, people round here believe it's causing bad harmony in the estate."

The house is in a block of four vacant properties put on the market on the Rockview Park estate in Moneymore.

Residents claim new tenants refused to move in because they feared what lurked within.

This is a vacant, derelict block and the only thing put to it should be a JCB digger
Patsy McGlone
Assembly member

A single mother-of-two who said she saw strange figures on the stairs and heard noises in the dead of night was met with sniggers until a neighbour came to stay with her, Mr Marshall claimed.

"They heard it too and she forced the Executive to rehouse her. It was never occupied again," he said.

"Young ones went in to mess once but didn't stay long because they said there was something strange about it.

"I laughed at them but went to see for myself and saw a small circle of stones about two feet in diameter and a Ouija board."

Mr Marshall and his wife Gemma were part of a residents' group who lobbied Housing Executive bosses against selling it to a private developer because they suspect anti-social tenants would be moved in without any checks.

A Housing Executive spokeswoman said no decision has been reached on what will happen to the houses.

"Following representations from the local community, the properties have been withdrawn from the market," she said.

"I cannot confirm information or knowledge of the property at 55 Rockview Park being haunted."

But political representatives insisted it should be removed immediately to soothe frayed nerves.

Mid-Ulster SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone said it had become an eyesore.

"This is a vacant, derelict block and the only thing put to it should be a JCB digger," he said.

"It's an eyesore and there's concern among residents that it will go into the private sector without any control over who comes into it."

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