View Full Version : Tony Martin has murder conviction quashed

30th Oct 2001, 22:18
What's going on ?

For once, a victory for common sense....

Tony Martin Story (http://www.tiscali.co.uk/news/)

The Appeal Court in London reduced the murder conviction of Martin, 56, to manslaughter and cut his sentence to five years, meaning he will be eligible for parole in a year.

Martin has already served more than 18 months in prison for shooting ... intruders ...with a pump action shot gun ...after they broke into his isolated home called Bleak House, in Norfolk in August 1999.

The court accepted that Martin was suffering from a paranoid personality disorder when he shot the intruders.

Paranoid ? The b*ggers were trying to rob him ....

[ 30 October 2001: Message edited by: Grainger ]

30th Oct 2001, 23:28
Sadly, only a partial victory.

The Court of Appeal sensibly cleared him of murder, but the poor chap still has to stay in prison for another year for manslaughter for protecting his himself and his home.
He should have been released immediately.

1st Nov 2001, 03:01
A man was going up to bed when his wife told him he'd left the light on in the garden shed - she could see it from the bedroom window. But he said that he hadn't been in the shed that day. He looked himself, and
there were people in the shed, stealing things.
He rang the police, but they told him that no-one was in his area, so no-one was available to catch the thieves. He said OK, hung up, counted to 30 and rang the
police again.
"Hello. I just rang you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed? Well, you don't have to worry about them now, I've just shot them all."
Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars in the area, an Armed Response unit, the works. Of course, they caught the
burglars red-handed.
One of the policemen said to the man: "I thought you said you'd shot them!"
He replied "I thought you said there was no-one available!"

1st Nov 2001, 03:40
This is an issue which continues to generate more heat than light.

For the record, the most senior judges in the land decided that Martin was in no way justified in shooting as he did, and that his testimony was substantially untruthful.

What they did decide was that Martin's mental state was such that Diminished Responsibility was a factor, and they therefore amended the conviction to manslaughter, and the sentence to five years.

Emotional claptrap has nothing to offer here - a sad and sorry situation became a tragic one. There is no satisfaction to be gained by anyone in this judgement.

What the court said is at:

[ 01 November 2001: Message edited by: JPJ ]

tony draper
1st Nov 2001, 04:42
No way justified? that filth broke into his property for the second time, they should have given him a medal,well, he took one of the rats out of the gene pool,hopfully before it had time to breed more scum like itself.

1st Nov 2001, 12:30

Can I just remind you that it was 12 ordinary people who convicted him of murder in the first place having heard all of the evidence then available including that of Martin himself.

The new evidence that was heard by the Court of Appeal related to his mental state and has the effect of reducing what otherwise would hve been murder to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

The outcome is this:
The facts found by the jury and subsequently by the Court of Appeal amount to murder and would amount to murder in the case of an ordinary mentaly sound individual. Because of Tony Martin's mental condition his reasoning was impaired and therefore the offence is reduced to manslaughter.

This should not be seen in any way as a legal vindication of his actions because a person of sound mind doing the same thing in similar circumstances would be tried and convicted of murder.

Before anyone lays into me this post sets out the legal position and not any personal view as to what he did.

1st Nov 2001, 12:45

Wouldn't it be true to say it sets out the legal outcome rather than the legal position?

1st Nov 2001, 13:29
Still leaves open the question of what you are supposed to do when being burgled.

Ask them politely to leave ?

After being burgled repeatedly ? Tell them would they mind awfully not doing it again ?

Perhaps you could ask the burglars for a name and address and just post your stuff to them. :mad:

By entering someone's property to rob them, the burglar has clearly decided that the law does not apply to them. This ought to work both ways - they shouldn't then be able to claim the protection of the law if something goes wrong.

1st Nov 2001, 13:31
I wonder what happens if you see the burglar and call the police and tell them you think he's armed. Maybe they'll turn up faster...

tony draper
1st Nov 2001, 14:32
I would hardly call Bentley a poor chap, they went out with the intention of comitting that crime, between them they had two sheath knives a knuckle duster each and a hand gun.
It was not a spur of the moment action, causing death in the commision og a crime was a hanging offence in those days, they should both have hung.
We wouldn't be cursed with all this luvie nonesence about pardons now. ;)

1st Nov 2001, 15:05
draper, at the point that the death occurred in the Bentley murder case, he was actually in police custody. The fact that he was convicted of murder was also problematical, since his mental age was such that it is doubtful that he could form the necessary mens rea for murder.

Like many others, I am very uneasy about the Tony Martin case. In defence of your home you are entitled to use "reasonable force". The definition of what is or is not reasonable is, of course, a moveable feast, and remains at the discretion of the jury. For example, if you get a couple of unarmed 11-year olds climbing in through a broken window it may possibly be considered unreasonable to take a pickaxe handle to them. That may be entirely reasonable against a grown man armed with a baseball bat. If in the course of the ensuing struggle you genuinely fear he is going to batter you to death, in self-defence it is unlikely you would receive any conviction if you managed to take down your shotgun and kill him.

The definition of "reasonable" is, of course, a legal nicety to be argued later in court. You don't have much time in the heat of the moment to ask yourself whether you are being reasonable when struggling with an intruder. It may possibly be argued that a burglar knows what he is doing is illegal and accepts any and all consequences of his actions, and that therefore a change in the law to legitimise any action by the homeowner, but therein lie dangers.

spud's on the job
1st Nov 2001, 18:45
so what does this mean for Ron Dixon then?

1st Nov 2001, 22:03
OK, but as you say the problem is how do you define "reasonable force"

It's time the pendulum swung the other way a little bit, so here's my suggestion:

Instead of "reasonable force", you should be entitled to defend yourself/home/property by any means necessary

Notice this doesn't give you free rein to shoot people, but it does put the boot on the other foot, so to speak.

1st Nov 2001, 23:30
That word 'reasonable' is so important. As has been said in a different context, 'reasonable' is like 'elephant'. None of us could define it, but we can recognise it if we see it.

That's what juries are for. twelve citizens decide what was reasonable in the circumstances.

If any of us were charged with an offence, we might have reason to appreciate that principle.

The definition of a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

The definition of a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

Grainger; you say:

Instead of "reasonable force", you should be entitled to defend yourself/home/property by any means necessary

So who decides what is 'necessary'? You? Me?

I know, let's ask a jury.


[ 01 November 2001: Message edited by: JPJ ]

1st Nov 2001, 23:59
The necessary level of force is established by what achieves the effect of stopping th ecrime.

Ask the burglar to leave.
Stand in his way.
Hit him with a baseball bat.
Shoot him.

At some point in this escalation the burglar will be stopped. The burglar decides what level of force is necessary to stop him.

2nd Nov 2001, 01:33
'Fraid you missed the point.

Flying Lawyer
2nd Nov 2001, 01:44
The 'necessary' test you propose is actually stricter than the current test, and would be likely to result in more convictions.
At present, a jury is entitled to find that a man's actions when defending himself against attack were 'reasonable' in the circumstances, even if they were not 'necessary.'

In case anyone is interested, the direction a judge gives a jury when a defendant says he acted in self-defence is along these lines: "Normally, where one person uses deliberate violence towards another and injures/kills him, he acts unlawfully. However, it is both good law and good sense that a person who is attacked or believes that he is about to be attacked may use such force as is reasonably necessary to defend himself.
If that is the situation, his use of force is not unlawful - he is acting in lawful self-defence, and is entitled to be found 'Not Guilty'.

As it is the prosecution's duty to prove the case against the defendant, it is for the prosecution to make you sure that he was not acting in lawful self-defence. The defendant does not have to prove that he was.
What does acting in lawful self-defence mean?
The law is that a person only acts in lawful self-defence if, in all the circumstances, he believes it is necessary for him to defend himself, AND the amount of force which he uses in doing so is reasonable.

So there are two main questions for you to answer:
1. Did the defendant believe, or may he honestly have believed, that it was necessary to defend himself?
A person who .... injures another as an act of revenge or retaliation acts unlawfully, for it is not necessary for him to use force at all.
Also there are circumstances in which a man may be attacked or threatened with attack, but it is not necessary for him to fend off his attacker with force because he could, for example, very easily get away from him, or he is a much stronger person than his attacker and could quite easily deal with the situation without resorting to violence.

If the prosecution has made you sure that the defendant did not [e.g. strike/shoot X] in the belief that it was necessary to defend himself, then self-defence simply does not arise.
But if you decide that he was, or may have been acting in that belief, then you must go on to answer the second question:

2. Taking the circumstances as the defendant believed them to be, was the amount of force which he used reasonable?
The law is that force used in self-defence is unreasonable and unlawful if it is out of proportion to the nature of the attack, or if it is in excess of what is really required of the defendant to defend himself.
So, for example, if the defendant began by defending himself, but then totally over-reacted, turning an act of self defence into a punitive attack, and caused [injury/death] in the course of that attack, that would not be lawful.
It is for you, the jury, to decide whether the force used by this defendant was reasonable. In doing so, consider all the circumstances.
What was the nature of the attack upon him? Was a weapon used by the attacker?
If so, what kind of weapon was it, and how was it used?
Was the attacker on his own, or was the defendant being attacked, or in fear of, a concerted attack by two or more persons?

Each case is different and in deciding this question use your common sense, experience, knowledge of human nature and, of course, your assessment of what actually happened at the time of this incident.
In deciding this, judge what the defendant did against the background of what he honestly believed the danger to be.
e.g. If he honestly believed he was being attacked with a knife, his actions are to be judged in that light, even if you find as a fact that he was not being attacked with a knife.
You should also bear in mind that a person who is defending himself cannot be expected in the heat of the moment to weigh precisely the exact amount of defensive action which is necessary. The more serious the attack [or threatened attack] upon him the more difficult his situation will be.
If, in your judgement the defendant believed or may have believed that he had to defend himself and he did no more than what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary to do so, you may think that would be strong evidence that the amount of force used by him was reasonable.
And so, bearing in mind what I have said, are you sure that the force used by the defendant was unreasonable?
If it was unreasonable he cannot have been acting in lawful self defence.
If the force used was, or may have been, reasonable then he is 'Not Guilty'."

I make no comment on the Tony Martin case. I know nothing about it other than what's been reported in the Press.
However, it will be seen that a jury is told to make every allowance for a man's actions in the circumstances as he honestly believed them to be at the time, that he doesn't have to prove he acted in self-defence, and that they should convict only if the prosecution have proved that he did NOT act in self-defence.

Should the law be changed so that a person attacked has freedom to do whatever he wants in response?

JPJ - With respect, Grainger hasn't missed your point at all, he's making a different one.
G's argument is that "reasonable force" is far too vague and shouldn't come in to it. He argues that the person under attack should be entitled by law to gradually increase the amount of force used until the criminal stops trying to commit the crime.
If asking the burglar to leave doesn't work: Stand in his way.
If that doesn't work: Hit him with a baseball bat.
If he still won't stop: Shoot him.
ie The householder should be entitled to keep going until the criminal gives up. When the criminal stops, the person defending himself and/or his property has to stop.
Is that 'reasonable' or 'unreasonable'?

PS: I liked your definition of 'liberal' and 'conservative' - very true! :)

[ 01 November 2001: Message edited by: Flying Lawyer ]

2nd Nov 2001, 12:10
Flying Lawyer is right as far as directions to a jury go and I quote from his directions to a jury

"As it is the prosecution's duty to prove the case against the defendant, it is for the prosecution to make you sure that he was not acting in lawful self-defence. The defendant does not have to prove that he was".

However, I can assure you the defence has to "prove" or "sell" to the jury it was self defence otherwise the message will simply not get through to the jury. You also have to contend with a prosecution who will be doing its best to prove your client used more than reasonable force.

[ 02 November 2001: Message edited by: slj ]

2nd Nov 2001, 13:23
He will be back when he's finished fending off the intruder

2nd Nov 2001, 14:03
Yeah, JPJ, I love that definition of Liberals & Conservatives as well.... :cool:

I've always wondered how many people would actually live and die by thier so-called 'principles' which they shout so loudly down the pub..... :rolleyes:

I shall henceforth use that definition in conversation... :D :D

2nd Nov 2001, 23:00
Thanks FL, that summing-up clarifies things a lot.

What I really wanted was a clearer definition of where you draw the line - 'reasonable' being such a vague business.

I don't think the 'any means necessary' would lead to a significantly greater level of violence being authorised.

Unless anyone thinks it 'reasonable' that we not be allowed to do what is necessary to defend ourselves.

fantum farter
3rd Nov 2001, 04:31
Reasonable force?

All the stuff about shouting/standing in his way/baseball bat etc I agree with.
Mr. Martin fired his shotgun in his weakened mind in self defence and if he had stopped there when the burglar was floored he may well have walked with a lighter sentance.


He chose to then blast the second barrel into the now incapacitated burglar from very short range.

Can you consider this reasonable force?

hence his conviction.

I do believe that everyone has the right to protect their property and would welcome a change to the law which states that if you commit a crime such as this then you are then absolved from it's protection as mentioned in a previous post.

having been burgled twice I caught one after a 10 minute chase ( me in my skiddies when it was -10c) and then watched a farcical court appearance when along with about 25 others I was a witness. Spent all day waiting to give evidence against this scum wasting how much taxpayers money?
Eventually he pleaded guilty and was given a term in one of these rehabilitation centres -cause he was a heroin junky.
2 weeks later he walked past my mother in the street with a joint hanging out his mouth.(My mothers cries had awoken me as this scum was in her bedroom rifling her dressing table at 0200)

My mother still cannot sleep properly and this was ten years ago.

The last few paragraphs was so that some of you who think that I may be a loony lib on the side of the burglars, impoverished upbringing/dont shoot them etc. well bollocks to that do the american 3 strikes thing. 3 little crimes and you get a long sentence (cos you were warned!)

It still does not exonerate Mr Martin for the second shot and he has been in front of two jurys now.

3rd Nov 2001, 14:19
Thanks for a very interesting post Flying Lawyer.

You say "Mr. Martin fired his shotgun in his weakened mind in self defence and if he had stopped there when the burglar was floored he may well have walked with a lighter sentance. However. He chose to then blast the second barrel into the now incapacitated burglar from very short range. Can you consider this reasonable force? hence his conviction."

I don't follow.
If he shot the first burglar in self defence, why would what he did to the second burglar make any difference?

Also, Mr Martin has not been tried by two juries. The appeal was decided by three judges, not a jury.

I agree with you that anyone who attacks you, breaks into your house or tries to steal your property should automatically lose his rights.

I think Grainger's idea was very good. You should be entitled to increase the use of force until he stops.
Much simpler, and much fairer to the victim.

fantum farter
3rd Nov 2001, 17:06
Sorry if I didn't make it clearer.
He shot and downed a burgler in self defence etc.
Then he shot the SAME burgler again whilst he was down ie. no longer a threat to him so now unreasonable force for the second blast.

point about one jury noted -my mistake (really shouldn't post after a couple of bottles of wine it does cloud the mind somewhat)

feeton's lost lovechild
3rd Nov 2001, 22:53
Surely, that is the whole point of the argument - he was in a weakened state of mind, panicked, fearful of his life, and not thinking straight.

I doubt very much if he thought at all as he blasted both barrels - he certainly wouldn't have carefully considered he was now safe and put his weapon down after the first shot. He probably wasn't really aware if the thief was incapacitated or not - how many people would be thinking coolly and calmly at such a time.

Still, next time I see a crime taking place, I'll shout at the criminals - I'm sure they'll be so frightened they'll immediately run round to the local police station and give themselves up.

3rd Nov 2001, 23:53
As one can see/read every day in the newspapers, criminals in the uk are more protected by the government than the lawful citizen. Criminals askin for there human rights when in prison, there never ask there victim for there rights .
I have to pay my TV licence, pay for the gym and pay my council tax. Prisoner are exempted from paying council tax! and the gym is free too. :mad: :mad:

4th Nov 2001, 02:56
Just to think that Ibis' opinions and command of the English language are the result of at least 12 years of compulsory education. :confused:

[ 03 November 2001: Message edited by: Unwell_Raptor ]

Doctor Cruces
4th Nov 2001, 07:26
If Martin gets out he will do the same again very shortly IMHO. This is the same bloke who, a couple of years ago, took pot shots at a couple of kids who he thought were trying to nick a few apples from his trees. This is what he lost his shotgun licence in the first place for.

I also agree that it seems that criminals are far better protected than the law abiding, especially when I learn that if my German Shepherd Dog bites an intruder who is in my home nicking my Hi-Fi that I can be "done" and my dog destroyed..........

Unfortunately, as long as the law is dispensed by geriatric idiots from ivory towers with about as much idea of the real world as a hippy on LSD, there is no hope for any of us.

Doc C.

4th Nov 2001, 19:27
Dr Cruce,
I am one of the geriatric idiots dispensing justice from my ivory tower, albeit at the lowest court in the land, and I can assure you it is not we who makes the laws and the sentencing guidelines but parliament.

I know there are some rogue judges and Magistrates out there and I also think that sometimes they do live on another planet, but the majority of the judiciary come to structured decisions. They only act on the evidence put before them and adjudicate accordingly.

I too have not seen the facts of the Martin case, but if he broke the current law and used unreasonable force then the jury came to the only decision available to them. As I see it Martin can only appeal on conviction if new evidence has been found and then he is given leave to appeal. The reduction in sentence was because of his mental state at the time of the offence. This evidence was obviously not brought up at the first trial by his lawyers. If it had the outcome may have been different.

Please dont blame the judiciary for this decision. He was found guilty by twelve of his peers and the Judge was only giving him the only sentence available for murder, which is life imprisonnment. The appeal court also found him guilty but of the lesser crime of manslaughter due to the state of his mind. At no time did any of the appeal court judges say that the facts of the crime was any different. Shooting an unarmed man twice can never be justified under any circumstances.

It could have been your son doing the burglary. How would you feel if a householder had shot him and used the fact of protecting property, the property can be replaced anyway, and you had lost your son. Not a good thought eh. I dont condone what these two young thugs did to Martin or his property but really did one of them deserve to die for it. I dont think so.

Flying Lawyer
4th Nov 2001, 22:45
I sympathise with what you're trying to say but, with great respect, a number of your basic propositions are wrong.

"... I can assure you it is not we who makes the laws and the sentencing guidelines but parliament."
Making Law
Judges do make law. (For obvious reasons, JPs in the Magistrates don't.)
Much of our law (criminal and civil) is case law, based upon precedents in previous cases.
The law relating to 'self-defence' is one topical example. There is nothing in any Act of Parliament which defines self-defence. The principles are based upon the previous decisions of the Court of Appeal in similar cases.

Sentencing Guidelines
Parliament decides the maximum penalty, but does NOT, except in very few cases, specify the sentence. eg Murder carries an automatic life sentence. Manslaughter does not. The appropriate sentence is left to the discretion of the court.
The Court of Appeal occasionally issues 'Sentencing Guidelines' for a particular offence, but they are guidelines. The Judge passing sentence has all the facts, both of the offence and the offender, and is in the best position to decide the appropriate sentence.

New evidence.
'New evidence' is one ground upon which a convicted person may seek leave to appeal. It is not the only one.

"The reduction in sentence was because of his mental state at the time of the offence."
No. The sentence was reduced because Martin's murder conviction was quashed. The Court of Appeal substituted the less serious offence of manslaughter, and then passed a lesser sentence for the less serious offence.

"Shooting an unarmed man twice can never be justified under any circumstances."
Yes, in law it can be justified. But the circumstances of this case didn't justify it in the opinion of the original jury, or the the Court of Appeal.

What do you think of Grainger's idea that the law should allow the victim to gradually increase the amount of force until the criminal stops trying to commit the offence?

Dr Cruces
Your mental image of Judges is about as accurate as the image of all pilots having Brylcream hair and handle-bar moustaches! :rolleyes:

5th Nov 2001, 00:27
A spurious argument Rover, one that presupposes the burglar is somehow the victim in this incident - for this was not a question of deserts, just or otherwise. But more of a series of events that ended up in a tragic killing, one which was not predictable, but was inevitable.

During the past few years over sixty householders have been killed by burglars (how many others have been injured and mugged). Did they deserve to die Rover – did they also wait in vain for the police to turn up and protect them. How many of these burglars, who killed, are now serving life sentences for their crimes.

No-one deserves to have his life ended in such a squalid way; but neither do the many innocent victims of violence deserve what happens to them. Would these two young men have attacked Martin if he hadn’t been armed? Would they have been apprehended if they had killed him, or would they have got away with the crime?

We are expected to accept the notion that we must not defend our homes, our property or our persons in case we injure or harm the perpetrator of a crime. We are expected to act calmly and with reason when we are often in fear of our lives. We do this, because we have handed over responsibility for our security and safety to those we think will protect us from anti-social acts. But no-one enforces this for the public – those ordinary people who don’t go out and rob, steal, mug and rape others.

It is worth remembering that Tony Martin was alone in a remote farmhouse at night, facing an unknown number of intruders. How could he know they were unarmed. They broke into his house and the police were not interested in protecting him, he was supposed to ‘shout at them’. Do you really believe that would have made them leave. They were, after all, hardened criminals with numerous convictions including assault, in fact the dead youth was on bail at the time he carried out the crime. It is also worth recalling that the father of the dead youth has been imprisoned for armed robbery, he held a gun to the head of a female security guard, these thugs came from backgrounds which would have made them more prone to attack him.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me – if ‘life imprisonment’ is the only punishment for murder – how many murderers have served the full life-sentence. And what exactly is meant by life-sentence.

Also, I’ve always found it strange that criminals convicted of a crime and given a sentence, which one presumes the judge decided would be appropriate, can then have his sentence halved because he ‘behaves’ in prison. Surely, the sentence is related to the crime, not his subsequent behaviour.

5th Nov 2001, 02:27
Angelone, your post makes a few good points. Unfortunately, nost of the others are matters of conjecture, assumption and some appear to be verging on the hysterical.

The killing was not predictable, but was inevitable?? What on earth does that mean?

The conjecture about what might have happened had Martin not killed one of the burglars is not something on which a court can base a verdict. And what on earth makes you think we are not entitled to defend our homes? Of course we are. However, we must not use indiscriminate force. We are entitled to use "reasonable" force. Put simply, if a ten-year old kid breaks a window and climbs in, you are not entitled to batter him to death with a golf driver. Or do you wish the concept of "reasonable" force to be extended to include this?

Next, I'm not sure what your definition of a "hardened" criminal is. Usually it's merely an emotional term used by the more unscrupulous among the media to whip up hysteria. Furthermore, I'm sure that Martin was not aware of their past as he unloaded first one barrel, then the second as the boy laying severely injured.

If you think their "background" caused them to lean towards the concept of attacking him, then they could never be imprisoned, since they cannot be held responsible for their "background".

"Life sentence" does not mean that they stay in prison until the day they die. If lifers had no hope of parole, there would be no reason for them to reform, to moderate their behaviour at all. Jails would very rapidly become totally ungovernable. Hence the parole system, under which prisoners have to show not only that they have behaved well whilst in jail, but show remorse for their past misdeeds, and provide positive evidence of their rehabilitation.

And finally, the judge is fully aware of the possible effect of a parole hearing. He also recognises why the parole system exists. It's not exactly as if his standing is being undermined. And of course the penalty is mitigated if the prisoner shows he has reformed. Or would you rather keep him in, just out of a sense of revenge?

5th Nov 2001, 04:25
"Verging on the hysterical?
That's very harsh, Hugmonster.

You say the conjecture about what might have happened had Martin not killed one of the burglars is not something on which a court can base a verdict?
According to Flying Lawyer's post, the jury is told they should take into account what the householder honestly believed "might have happened" had Martin not shot the burglar.

I think Grainger's deals with the '10 year old burglar' scenario, and is a good suggestion which does away with the problem of other people who weren't there deciding later what is 'reasonable force'.
He says you should be entitled to increase the amount of force you use until the criminal stops.
What do you think of that idea?

Next, you say "hardened" criminal is "merely an emotional term used by the more unscrupulous among the media to whip up hysteria."
That's not true, and I don't believe you think that. "Hardened criminals" ignore and defy every effort the police and courts make to try to stop them committing offences, and they can be of any age.

You say 'If you think their "background" caused them to lean towards the concept of attacking him, then they could never be imprisoned, since they cannot be held responsible for their "background".'
B*ll*cks. Lots of criminals commit offences because they are brought up in an environment, either at home or in their peer group, which leads them towards crime. But they are still punished if attempts at discouraging them fail. And so they should be.

The system of letting people out when they've only served half the sentence the judge thought was right is daft.
The judge gives them six years, for example, and they know they'll be out in three!
I agree there has to be some way of making them behave in prison, but this could be done by making them serve longer if they misbehave, not less as a bonus for behaving properly.

"Would you rather keep him in (after he's reformed) just out of a sense of revenge?"
That's a bit emotive. The sentence is meant to be a punishment for what they've done. There's a difference between punishment and revenge.

5th Nov 2001, 05:43
Virgin, I stand by my post.
You say the conjecture about what might have happened had Martin not killed one of the burglars is not something on which a court can base a verdict?
According to Flying Lawyer's post, the jury is told they should take into account what the householder honestly believed "might have happened" had Martin not shot the burglar.
This is a reference not to what might have happened. This is a question of what Martin's belief what was about to happen. There is a difference. It goes directly to his state of mind, and what, given that state of mind, constitutes "reasonable force".

Their background is not relevant to Martin's defence, unless they were personally known to him, which I believe was not the case. In other words, he could make no assumption of what they were likely to do given their background. Furthermore, if you believe that having a criminal parent will lead incontrovertibly to criminal children, then let's lock them up now. It's simply not true. In general, deprivation and poverty do lead people to commit some types of crime. However, there is no direct correlation between some insubstantial factor called "background" and criminal tendencies, unless we're talking about being a Tory MP and being a liar! ;) There is considerable evidence the other way - that children of parents who have served time in prison are less likely to commit crimes like burglary or mugging than those who came from more "upright" backgrounds.

Incidentally, there was a letter to The Guardian some time ago written from one of Her Majesty's penal institutions that remarked that readers of The Sun constituted some 90%+ of the inmates, and readers of The Guardian less than 1%. It went on to suggest that quite an improvement in the crime figures could be achieved if Sun readers were immediately locked up!

As for the purpose of penal policy, it has been pointed out many times here that there are several functions that imprisonment serves. They are:- Punishment Set an example to others (deterrence) Expression of revenge on the behalf of the victims Protection of the public from further crimes Rehabilitation of offenders etc. etc.If, in the view of those whom we pay to evaluate such matters, no further public interest is served in keeping an offender imprisoned, and if they judge that there is no further danger, and if they consider that sufficient remorse has been shown, then the offender will be released on parole. If he then commits further offences, on apprehension he will be liable to serve the remainder of his original term, plus whatever tariff is imposed for his later crimes.

Parole boards do take into account the feelings of the victims, but these are not necessarily paramount. Nor are the opinions of sections of the public, although these are also often considered.

And if you still think that judges should insist upon no possibility for parole every time they pass a custodial sentence, or aren't aware that the defendant who has just been convicted in their courtroom will be eligible for parole after a portion of his sentence has been served, you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

[ 05 November 2001: Message edited by: HugMonster ]

5th Nov 2001, 06:06
I think I've got it. Hugmonster's post was not inevitable, but it was predictable.

5th Nov 2001, 06:11
No probs with that, Davaar :) I can fully accept that something may be predictable but not inevitable, but how it can be inevitable, yet not predictable is totally beyond me!

5th Nov 2001, 07:39
May it not be that inevitability is objective, but predictability is subjective and dependent on experience? Given, for example, the state of knowledge at the time of design, it was not predicted (except in a sense by Nevil Shute) or predictable that the Comets would come down through metal fatigue failure. Unknown to anyone, though, physics and metallurgy made the failures inevitable.

5th Nov 2001, 14:24
Just a small point - people have referred to 'both barrels' of Martin's weapon. Wasn't it an (illegal) pump-action?
And mightn't things have turned out a little differently if he had been armed with the usual farmer's double barrelled 12 bore, and been forced to reload?

[ 05 November 2001: Message edited by: Unwell_Raptor ]

Tricky Woo
5th Nov 2001, 16:43

Good point: after a reload he could have shot the burglar four times in total.

I am very worried that there're people in this world sat at home right now, caressing a gun of some sort, and simply hoping and praying for a burglar to climb through the window, so that they can blast away with 'some justification'.

This chap was of that ilk.

As regards Tony Martin being 'mentally disturbed'... don't make me f**king laugh. I'm you'll all be delighted to hear that ex-con Ernest Saunders (Remember the Guiness scandal?) remains the only Alzheimers-striken victim in the history of Mankind to recover completely from the illness. Lucky that.


5th Nov 2001, 21:55
There are many cases in which someone has emptied a gun at somebody else and claimed it was done in the heat of the moment - self defence, crime of passion, temporary mental disturbance, what-have-you. I don't know of any in which, having hit his target, he has stopped to reload, carried on shooting and got away with it on those grounds. The trouble being that reloading shows a certain determination, a presence of mind, an ability to form the mens rea of murder...

5th Nov 2001, 22:27
Tricky Woo
I am very worried that there're people in this world sat at home right now, caressing a gun of some sort, and simply hoping and praying for a burglar to climb through the window, so that they can blast away with 'some justification'.
This chap was of that ilk. I take it your intention was to liven up the discussion with some provocative nonsense. Well done, I've admired your input to JB for some time.
Just in case anybody thinks your comments were meant to be taken seriously .......
"This chap", who lived in a remote farmhouse miles from the nearest police help, had been the victim of burglary after burglary. Because he was a bit of recluse/eccentric, rumours spread that he was wealthy and had loadsa money hidden in the farmhouse. (He wasn't, and he didn't.)
These scumbags drove all the way from the Midlands to Norfolk to do this burglary.
He was driven to the end of his tether, not sitting there 'hoping and praying' he would be burgled yet again. :rolleyes:
As regards Tony Martin being 'mentally disturbed'... don't make me f**king laugh Just because there's been a well publicised case of somebody apparently beating the system on medical grounds doesn't mean mental/medical factors are always ficticious.

Wouldn't someone who was, or honestly believed themselves to be, still in danger of attack be justified in law in reloading and shooting again - and therefore not guilty of murder? :confused:

Also, what do you think of Grainger's proposed solution? (I think it's very sensible.)

[ 05 November 2001: Message edited by: Hoverman ]

6th Nov 2001, 05:07
Wouldn't someone who was, or honestly believed themselves to be, still in danger of attack be justified in law in reloading and shooting again - and therefore not guilty of murder?If, in the opinion of the jury, the accused had a reasonable cause for so believing, they are entitled to acquit him. I think, however, that his barristers would find it hard to establish that in the minds of the jury if, at the point where he stopped and reloaded, the object of his attention was lying on the floor bleeding to death, or possibly already dead. In other words, if someone is already down with one or more gunshot wounds, reloading and pumping a few more into him is unlikely to be considered as "reasonable force". So the answer to your question is, all factors considered, an almost unqualified no.

If, however, he was merely shot with something light, say a .22 which went straight through his left arm (let's assume he's right-handed) this merely annoying him rather, and he was still charging at the accused, who managed to run, reloading as he went, then the answer would be a little more equivocal. But (as I say) I have not heard of such a hypothetical case, and was certainly not the situation in this case.


Sorry, as regards Grainger's solution, I think it has its points, certainly. The legislation to bring it in would not be easy draughtsmanship, since there is currently no statute which defines murder since it is a common law crime, and almost everything around it (apart from the statutory sentence) has been defined by judges throughout the ages.
NB - here's your situation of judges making the law - pin your ears back, rover2701. For further reading, Lord Denning and J.A.G. Griffith are very good on the subject, as is Seldon.
So if a defence to a charge of murder is to be incorporated in statute, you've got to define the crime itself, incorporating as much of the case law (precedent) as possible. As Flying Lawyer says, the defence of self-defence is not incorporated in statute, but in precedent. So producing such a statute would be no means impossible, but very difficult and I suspect that something like this would be low on any government's agenda for parliamentary time.

[ 06 November 2001: Message edited by: HugMonster ]

6th Nov 2001, 05:35
HM your problem is not that you do not comprehend nor understand what is written - it is that because you do not agree with it you dismiss it with disparaging terminology. There are none so intolerant as those who impose their ideals on others.

I note you didn't comment on the number of murdered householders - taken from Home Office statistics. How many of those who were killed, didn't pick up a weapon because they were afraid of being charged with using unreasonable force.

A hardened criminal is one who consistently and repeatedly commits crimes - with little or no intention of stopping. Fred Barras had 29 convictions and was on bail at the time of the burglary - emotive or not, he was by any description a criminal and certainly not a soft one.

Reasonable force - tell that to the two pensioners who were locked in a room and left to die without food or water. Will the two men who robbed them be charged with attempted murder?

It was not predictable when or where a burglar would be killed, but given the inability of the police to protect the public, it was inevitable that it would happen.

6th Nov 2001, 06:03
Angelone, it is not because I disagree with what you say that I dismiss it. It is because it is illogical, badly-thought out and badly argued claptrap.

You resort to emotional appeals to gut reactions for what must, for the sake of justice, be argued rationally and coolly. I know that's not very easy in such cases, but it's necessary to make the effort.

You appear not to understand what you're writing yourself - for example, can you enlighten me with the difference (in the way you use the words) between "understand" and "comprehend"?

How many didn't pick up a weapon for fear of being charged with using "unreasonable force"? I have no idea, and nor do you, but I suspect the answer is as close to zero as will make no difference.

As for whether or not a burglar is a "hardened criminal" - do you propose we ask him before deciding whether or not to tackle him? Did Martin have any idea at the time whether or not these two were "hardened criminals"? Of course he didn't. Barras had 29 convictions - for what? A string of petty theft offences mostly. Does that prove he deserved to die? Does it make it acceptable that Martin killed him? That he shot him in the back when he was running out, and that he then shot him again?

Those two pensioners? A disgusting case, I'll agree with you there. As for any possible charge of attempted murder, no, it probably would not stick at all. And not relevant to the Martin case, and nothing whatsoever to do with the legal principle of self-defence, so I'm not sure what your point is.

Finally, your "predictable" vs "inevitable" wriggling will not get you out of the fact that when you used the phrase you were referring to this one case, not any burglar.
...a series of events that ended up in a tragic killing, one which was not predictable, but was inevitable.
But have it your way if you insist.

[ 06 November 2001: Message edited by: HugMonster ]