View Full Version : British Man Denied Parole, Ruled "A Threat to Burglars"

02-24-2003, 05:18 PM
Somebody pinch me. 'Ave they lost their bloomin' minds? Here's M's summary, but the actual article is much better:

A middle-aged man in England, who had been robbed in his farmhouse several times (after which incidents police had been very slow in responding), the last time shot in the dark to scare them away, in a panic, and wounded one while killing the other. This time the police respnded quickly. He was arrested and subsequently convicted, even though investigation showed he had indeed fired blindly to warn them off. He served enough of his sentence to be eligible for parole, but the parole board turned down his request because he "showed no remorse" and was "not up to speed in the 21st century"-- they concluded he still poses a threat to burglars. This because he feels he has the right to defend himself in his own home--since the police obviously won't be providing that service.

The backdrop for this scenario: recently British judges were advised to no longer send first-time burglars to prison, due to overcrowding--so aspiring home invaders know that the worst they will get for a first offense is community service. The Metropolitan Police announced they would no longer investigate burglaries unless the perpetrator was obvious and the evidence plenty. Police manpower will now only be used to investigate murders, rapes and hate crimes. And citizens who defend themselves in their own homes run serious risk of being seen, in the eyes of the courts, as being "dangerous to burglars."

Read the actual article:

02-24-2003, 05:30 PM
The English law on self defense is a crime against humanity. But the problem here is that this guy's shooting was bad. It was ridiculous to call it a murder, but it really was a manslaughter. He had no idea how to defend himself. I'm about as strong a proponent for self defense and gun rights as you will find, but this guy's conduct was reckless. He should feel remorse about being an idiot and firing a warning shot. I don't have a lot of sympathy for the burgler of course, but the shooting was bad. He should be happy he is only doing a few years. That notwithstanding, England should allow the population to re-arm and allow the shooting of burglars in some circumstances.

02-24-2003, 06:35 PM
Too bad for the middle aged farmer (I assume he is since he lives in a farmhouse) that he doesn't live in New Mexico.

nicky g
02-24-2003, 07:40 PM
MMMMMM you and the article you provide a totally distorted version of what happened. Martin shot a 16 year-old burglar as he was trying to escape through a window. The burglar posed no threat at all, and Martin's actions cannot be characterised as "self-defence." The article says he didn't intend to hit them; the trial jury didn't seem to think so, after studying ballistic evidence. If you fire a warning shot you fire it in the air, and not three times. He also shot the burglar's accomplice, who was also fleeing. He then left the burglar to bleed to death in his garden before calling an ambulance. That in itself is a very serious crime. Not displaying remorse for a crime is reasonable grounds for denial of parole. The idea that Martin is a "threat to burglars" has nothing to do with it.

It's worth noting thatnot only were both burglars in this case gypsies, but that neighbours testified to the effect that Martin had stated that all gypies should be put in a field and shot, and had praised Hitler's treatment of them. I think you should look for a new hero.

I don't know how accurate the information about the Met is. Certainly, where Martin lived was a long way from their jurisdiction. THere was recently an article in the British press about how Virginia police would no longer respond to domestic violence calls. London isn't the only city with a crime problem.

I don't see how Fred Barra's famly history is relevant (maybe the author has the same opinion f gpsies as Martin did), but one thing;s worth noting; none of the relatives he mentioned killed anyone.

02-24-2003, 08:30 PM
Well if the article portrayed the facts inaccurately then I'm sorry I didn't cross-check it before posting--although I had no reason to suspect the article was providing an inaccurate, let alone grossly inaccurate, account.

Anyway, how many times should this guy be expected to tolerate home invasions?

And why should the transgressors have any rights at all? They are willingly jeopardizing themselves, and putting the homeowner in fear and jeopardy to boot--I think the laws should be revised to allow shooting of such criminals by the homeowner. Nobody is forcing them to be home invaders--if they want to play that game, let them take their chances. They're big boys--they neither need nor deserve protection from the person they are putting in danger and violating.

If they don't want to take the chance of getting shot, they shouldn't choose to be home invaders or burglars. It doesn't really have to be all that complicated. And if the English are worrying about handguns on the street, the laws could be amended to permit long guns only, in the home.

02-24-2003, 08:34 PM
hard to say but if i was robbed by black people ten times im sure id be saying nigger nigger nigger.

02-24-2003, 10:45 PM
"Martin shot a 16 year-old burglar as he was trying to escape through a window. The burglar posed no threat at all, and Martin's actions cannot be characterised as "self-defence."

Martin almost certainly "walks" in New Mexico.

02-25-2003, 02:30 AM
Let me qualify a statement. I don't quite believe the home invaders should have "no rights at all." I think they should have the right not to be tortured, for instance. However, they are committing an act of aggression against the homeowner by entering to rob. The homeowner has NO WAY to know if they will merely rob him or if they will do much worse. The homeowner should not be required by law to take any further risks. If he chooses he can wait and see what develops. Maybe he can reason with the invaders. Maybe they won't beat him or kill him and they'll only take his money or possessions. But if he follows this path of increased risk, it should be at his own choosing; it should not be required by law that he allow himself to be jeopardized further. Therefore, if the homeowner does not choose to take this further risk, to in essence put himself at the mercy of these home invading criminals, he should have the option to shoot them with zero legal repercussions. They are the transgressors; they are the ones who chose to embark on this course of action and put themselves and the homeowner in jeopardy. The homeowner is the victim, not the burglars--and it is an immoral law that requires the victim to allow himself to be victimized further by willful aggressors, and requires him to take the chance of grave injury or death for himself or his loved ones.

Yes, burglars should have rights too: to receive a fair trial and not receive barbaric punishment by the court afterwards. However in the act of the burglary itself they should not have the right to expect not to be shot by a homeowner acting in self-defense, and they should not be able to rely on the law to assist them in their villainous endeavor--which it does, by making homeowners afraid to act in self-defense or defense of property if they so deem it prudent.

02-25-2003, 02:37 AM
of course.

btw, somebody climbs in your window, you make a sound or whatever, and they turn back towards the window.

how do u know they didnt climb in with a shotgun or something (put the shotgun in, then climbed in, then heard you and turned around to reach for it or whatever).?

pie in the sky? what percent of the time does something like that have to occur for you to be justified in making a split second decision to shoot? some low x%? so some low x% of the time youre expected to give up your life in the interests of ...?

nicky g
02-25-2003, 06:25 AM
I agree with you on a number of things here. But in the Martin case they were running away. They were escaping out a window, and one of them was already out. They clearly did not pose a threat. Shooting people in the back is a crime no matter what they've done.

nicky g
02-25-2003, 06:30 AM
"how do u know they didnt climb in with a shotgun or something (put the shotgun in, then climbed in, then heard you and turned around to reach for it or whatever).?"

Be serious.

Martin heard them in his home. When he came down, they heard him and ran. He knew they were in his home at first, and he knew they were leaving when he came down. One of them had already got out. Futhermore after having shot them he did next to nothing to help them, waiting till Barras had bled to death before calling the emergency services.

02-25-2003, 06:50 AM
suppose he shot, took cover (concealment), wasnt sure he got them all, and didnt want to expose himself for tactical reasons, figuring shots were heard, help on the way, best to sit tight in case 3rd man was laying for him?

why should he have to take unnecessary risks?


i mean in general you know.

nicky g
02-25-2003, 06:52 AM
The details i gave are incorrect; apologies, it's been a long time since the case was in the press. Here's a link to a story covering the original conviction.


And an excerpt from a piece analysing Martin's defence:

"From the outset Martin claimed that he opened fire on Barras and Fearon, who between them had a string of convictions, in self defence. He claimed his home in the remote fenland village of Emneth Hungate, near Wisbeach, had been plagued by burglars for years and had lost faith in the police.

There were two crucial issues at stake: where Martin was standing when he opened fire on the burglars with a Winchester pump action shotgun - which incidentally he claimed he had found - and his mental state at the time.

Martin's story is that he was in his bedroom when he was woken by the sound of the raiders breaking in. He said he fired from the rickety stairs into his breakfast room after a torch was shone into his eyes.

The prosecution accused Martin of lying. It said he was waiting for the burglars in the dark on the ground floor of his home and had effectively "executed" Barras.

Forensic tests concluded that at least two of the shots must have been fired by Martin while he was downstairs. But Martin's position when he fired the first shot - the one which killed Barras - is vital.

Martin's defence took the "tactical" decision of going along with the theory that all the shots had been fired while downstairs, as its alternative was to have to explain why Martin had fired once from the stairs then pursued the raiders downstairs. Such a scenario did not fit with the idea of a terrified man trying to defend himself.

As to his mental state, the prosecution depicted Martin as an angry man. It pointed out that he had violent views about burglars and especially about travellers - Barras was from a travellers' community. He had once talked of "putting gypsies in one of his fields surrounded by barbed wire and machine gunning them".

His defence maintained he was terrified. During the appeal it has been argued by his new legal team - he sacked the old one - that the trial defence could have argued more strongly that the murder charge could have been reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

It is thought, however, that Martin, an intensely private man from an old farming family, did not wish his defence to focus on his mental state and history.

02-25-2003, 07:36 AM
I have read a number of previous posts by you about the UK and its approach to law and order/gun laws. I read them with irritation and scepticism because it seemed to me that your grasp of the facts was slight at best, and your understanding of our country minimal or nil.

I was therefore gratified to find that this post was based on a blind acceptance of competely erroneous facts presented in a shockingly biased manner. Moreover, the presentation of the article to which you provided a link made it obvious by its style that it was an opinion piece, not serious journalism; you were blind to this, it seems. You have confirmed my suspicion that you simply take on faith anything that fits with your world view and reject anything else.

Where do you think the quote "threat to burglars" came from? You did not notice that it was unattributed?

Oh no!! Not again!

02-25-2003, 07:43 AM
arent u canadian? your guns were/are being confiscated right now, right? hope u enjoy it.

02-25-2003, 10:29 AM
No I'm English and I'm delighted that most guns are illegal in this country.

Unlike most of the gun nuts on this forum I've spent a lot of time in both the UK and the US so I feel I have some idea of whether it is better for safety and quality of life to have tens of millions of guns in private hands, or almost none at all. I could be wrong, but at least I have half a clue.

Oh no!! Not again!

John Cole
02-25-2003, 10:38 AM

"I had no reason to suspect the article was providing an inaccurate . . . account."

Didn't you see on the web page Ann Coulter's book advertised? A sure warning sign right there. /forums/images/icons/grin.gif


Tom D
02-25-2003, 10:50 AM
You can't just execute people.

Tom D

02-25-2003, 11:38 AM
Well I'm sorry it didn't occur to me that the reported facts might be wrong. I'll keep an eye out for that regarding opinion pieces in the future--a slight slant is what I expect from opinion pieces, not a wholesale distortion of the actual facts--but based on this article (apparently) and the article regarding that rape case not too long ago, it seems that my expectations should be revised to several notches lower.

Anyway, I think England should consider instituting a law allowing homeowners to keep a long gun and giving them carte blanche them to shoot burglars/home invaders. That would certainly cut down on the rampant burglaries, and would put the concepts of responsibility and transgression and potential endangerment in their proper perspectives--in other words, it's ALL the burglar's fault;-)

John Cole
02-25-2003, 12:53 PM

Although M does take a conservative stance on many issues, he is, and has demonstrated this in a number of posts, very willing to listen to opposing viewpoints. Besides, he's a nice guy, too. And we disagree on most political/social ideas.


02-25-2003, 01:50 PM
Thanks John, and likewise (except for the conservative part;-).

I am going to be reading up soon on the Libertarian philosophy--I don't know much about it yet--and I'm wondering if many of my views might not be more accurately described as Libertarian rather than Conservative (although there is some overlap between the two).

I typically seem gravitate towards political/social ideas which favor/protect the rights of the individual first and foremost, and frequently reject ideas which attempt to subjugate the rights of the individual to the so-called or supposed "greater good"--regardless of whether that attempt comes from "liberal" or "conservative" sources.

I pretty much feel that everyone should be free to do what they like as long as they are not harming others.

I also tend to favor political ideas which remain true to the Constitution of the United States (and I recently purchased from Dover The Federalist Papers and a copy of the Constitution so that I might read up a bit). In many ways, I feel that less is better when it comes to government.

These beliefs often drive me into siding with conservatives on various issues, but at times these beliefs drive me away from typically conservative stances.

Protecting the rights and liberties of the individual--that's essentially what I think government should be about--along with a few other necessities such as providing for the common defense.

John Cole
02-25-2003, 03:44 PM

I'd say my own political and social views are driven as well by the rights of the individual, but, I suppose, that makes me a liberal, even though I'd hardly claim that classification.

I'm also a deconstructionist, so when I read, I look for instances of what the words don't reveal, what's hidden, and gaps and fissures in the text. Much modern philosophy and literary theory addresses the inscrutability of various kinds of texts, and the Constitution is a text like any other. In other words, we begin from the stance that language is not a representation of ideas in an always understandable, direct form. (Stanley Fish is an interesting theorist to read about these matters since he is both a leading literary theorist and a lawyer.)

If I'm not mistaken, the terms "liberal" and "conservative" had their origin in constitutional interpretation to begin with. Quite frankly, I need to know much more about the Constitution, too, but I believe it can be read in any number of ways, and all may be equally valid--or equally invalid. Of course, this makes the interpretation challenging.

I don't know if we need more or less government, but I have trouble believing a party that preaches less government while finding new and improved ways to curtail access to information. Emerson said that when people tell him how honest they are, he counts his spoons. When a party preaches less government, I expect more.

Sorry for the ramble, but I was addressing--or trying to--a few of your points.