Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Self defence

A characteristic snark from Blood and Treasure:

Incidentally, I believe this is in line with current Tory policy on reasonable self defence.
"This" being a BBC report:
A Russian farmer has been convicted of planting landmines around his field to ward off trespassers.
Bovine partisanship aside, for of course Tories are no more likely to approve of this than Labour voters (which is to say some of each might but not many), what would be a reasonable legal position when it comes to the situation a householder might face when waking at night, alone, in an isolated farmhouse, and hearing sounds from downstairs?

I don't see why the householder, as a result of someone else deciding to break into their house, should be expected to accept any form of risk to their personal safety. There's no reason why they should have to get into a fight that is in any way fair. That is, a fight the burglar has an even chance of winning. The only sort of force that is reasonable in these circumstances is overwhelming force, force that keeps the householder as safe as they were asleep in bed before anyone broke in.

The only test that should apply is whether or not they were still at risk when applying the force. So if a burglar is running at them, screaming, the householder should be able to shoot them without suffering any repercussions. If a burglar is running away from the householder, screaming, then to shoot and kill would be murder, to shoot and wound would be assault.

This approach would have been of little help to Tony Martin, who shot and killed a burglar who was running away.


Anonymous said...

If I burgle in the usual way
But run away when you appear
I may well come back another day
And give you greater cause for fear

...just as happened to Mr Martin

The more sensible advice is to apply as much harm as you can, and then drag them back in over your threshold. That makes the paperwork a lot easier all round.

TDK said...

I think there has to be another consideration.

The burglar has had hours, weeks, even years to think about what they plan to do. About the dangers and what might go wrong. The burgled person is caught up in the moment. They didn't seek the events and shouldn't be held to the same standard as someone who has had time to ponder their actions.

We have to acknowledge that in times of stress, the adrenalin rises, a fight or flight reaction sets in and people do not behave as rationally as they might in normal circumstances or when they have had time to prepare.

That's not to say that anyone who's sap has risen should be treated leniently, but we ought to take into account that the householder didn't choose to be burgled.