Martin will, of course, be finally judged by the jury. But its
worth pointing out, to that potential jury, that the law of
the land is unlikely to be on his side. The facts of the case
have yet to come out, but already we know that he lived alone.
That he'd been burgled not once but several times previously
and that he was terrified - as most of us would be - by the
prospect of meeting burglars on his return home.
does British law allow you to do in this horrendous situation?
You can use so called "reasonable force".
question is, what constitutes reasonable force? And is shooting
the intruder stepping beyond reason?
an isolated farmhouse, I can't see how else I would
have reacted. There were three burglars. If he'd tried attacking
them with a baseball bat or pickaxe handle, what are the chances
he'd have survived the attempt at defence? Not a lot. He wasn't
a Giant Haystacks of a farmer. They'd have rolled over him
and almost certainly left him for dead.
the very least that is a reasonable assumption for anyone
in that position to make. So, given the choice, between staying
within the law and dying, or stepping beyond it and living,
how many would choose the first. I know I damn well wouldn't.
I'd feel safe with nothing less than a gun and I'd make bloody
sure they knew I meant it.
other thing he might have done, of course, is to call the
police. And sat and watched as the house was ransacked. That
might be sensible. After all the insurance would cover it,
wouldn't it? But reasonable? Would you sit and watch while
your house was turned over? Would the burglars have let you?
the police had already let him down. Despite having repeated
burglaries, the state has done nothing to improve his security.
only legitimate reason the state can profer against our being
armed and permitted to defend ourselves is that, in return
for this loss of freedom, they will offer us the same or better
protection. In this respect the state has unquestionably and
demonstrably already failed Tony Martin prior to this
last invasion and that, in my view, gives him every right
to defend himself - with whatever means he has at his disposal.
is the task of the jury in this case to ensure that the Law
does not impede our fundamental rights. The judge will no
doubt sum up with heavy emphasis on the so called excess of
reasonable force. You may not know it, but you the jury have
the power to reject every word the judge puts to you. If you
feel the law is unnecessarily punitive and restrictive in
this case, you can say so by acquitting the defendant regardless
of the Judge's advice or even direction. He won't like it
- but its true.
out the famous 17th Century case of the Jury who acquitted
William Penn (yes, he who later founded Pennsylvania but we
won't hold that against him) of preaching other than the orthodox
Christianity despite Penn's free admission of breach of the
Law. The jury decided the Law was unreasonable and found him
not guilty. The judge was so angry he imprisoned the jury
in the Tower of London. Public Opinion forced him to release
the 12 after a couple of weeks and ever since then it has
been accepted that the verdict of the Jury is absolute and
unquestionable. They do not have to explain their decision.
They account to no one because, for the duration of the trial
at least, they ARE "the people" and that, in a democracy,
is as high as you get!
you - the jury - must tell the world - and particularly every
potential burglar - that in at least this situation, shooting
someone dead is NOT excessive force. Unless he was sitting
there armed to the teeth like Rambo and just waiting for the
opportunity to let loose, Tony Martin is most certainly not
that judgement and you can be reasonably certain that people
living in isolated farmhouses at least, will be a little bit
safer than they were before the 22nd of August.
Stottle 23 August 1999