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If Someone Broke Into Your House Whilst You Were Asleep...


David

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Following the release of this news story today I thought it may spark an interesting debate;

 

Two men and a woman have been arrested after a suspected burglar was stabbed to death while trying to beak into a house.

 

The intruder was attempting to get into a house on Ethel Avenue in Salford, Greater Manchester, just before midnight last night when the householder is believed to have defended his property.

 

The dead man, whom police have not named, is believed to have been carried away from the address by other members of a balaclava-clad gang as they fled.

 

Police have put up a 100-metre cordon around the terrace house, which backs on to open scrubland close to a council recycling centre in the Pendlebury area of Salford.

 

Locals said they understood intruders tried to break into the back door of the property, then police received a 999 call from a woman at the house.

 

Greater Manchester Police said an investigation was still in its early stages and further details about the incident will be released later.

 

Those under arrest are believed to live at the house, according to sources.

 

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said the three people arrested were being held on suspicion of murder.

 

A spokeswoman for the force said: ''Police are investigating after a man died in Salford.

 

''Just before midnight, police were called to an address on Ethel Avenue, Pendlebury, following reports of a burglary and a group of men carrying an injured man on to Hospital Road.

 

''On arrival at Hospital Road, police found a 26-year-old man with stab wounds.

 

''He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

 

''Two men and a woman have been arrested and remain in police custody.''

 

Earlier this week David Cameron announced that homeowners would not be prosecuted for using reasonable force to defend their homes.

 

He said:

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Read about this earlier. The law already allows you to defend yourself & your property using 'reasonable force' in relation to the threat ie. If someone's wandering around your garden you can't lawfully club them to death but you can absolutely defend yourself. I'd like to think I'd have a go but in reality I'd probably ring the police & hide upstairs. If it came to a confrontation I'd do whatever I could.

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She did well to call the police at all - certainly in my house the phone is downstairs so to ring the cops I'd have to confront the burglar anyway.

 

People always seem to assume in these cases that the homeowner made some sort of choice to kill the intruder, but that's clearly hardly ever going to be the case. In a panic situation with seconds to react, grabbing the nearest heavy or sharp object and lashing out is the instinctive thing to do. I certainly subscribe to the point of view that if you're busy breaking into someone's house, you're tacitly accepting the inherent danger involved. You're the person committing a crime.

 

It's surely one of the most clear-cut of situations where manslaughter can occur. It's not like it's a confrontation in the street or something - one party is breaking the law by illegally entering another person's property. One party is clearly at fault, the other party is clearly in a defensive situation.

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I've got a couple of swords in the bedroom ready for such an instance. I don't know what I'd do. I find the "reasonable force" thing absurd -- if someone's breaking into your house, you probably don't know what they're armed with or how strong they are. How are you to know what level of force is reasonable? Getting them in a headlock or engaging them in a fistfight might not work, so if it doesn't, what are you allowed to do?

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People always seem to assume in these cases that the homeowner made some sort of choice to kill the intruder, but that's clearly hardly ever going to be the case. In a panic situation with seconds to react, grabbing the nearest heavy or sharp object and lashing out is the instinctive thing to do. I certainly subscribe to the point of view that if you're busy breaking into someone's house, you're tacitly accepting the inherent danger involved. You're the person committing a crime

 

Absolutely, in most cases I imagine it's a split second decision & grabbing the nearest item to hand is the natural thing to do. That's why there's not a 'one size fit's all' answer & each case will be judged on the specific circumstances. If you confronted someone in your kitchen & ended up stabbing them with the bread knife that was on the counter it's very different from seeing someone in your front drive, getting your husband & two teenage sons, going to the kitchen to get the biggest knife you own & the lot of you setting upon said person & stabbing them to death. Hence why the law allows you to use force that's reasonable in relation to the threat.

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If I was in the house on my own, then I'd probably just ring the police and wait, unless they tried to attack me in some way. But if my family were in the house then I probably would go down and "kick off". To what degree though is tough to answer. Depends on how many there are and what they have on them. I have a metal clumping stick under the bed so that would be what I would take with me. Plus I have a loud, deep, aggressive voice and my bellowing threats as I'm on my way down might be enough for them to leg it anyway. They can take what they like as long as I and my family down't get hurt. I have insurance.

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Not to mention the story of Tony Martin, who wasted an intruder who broke into his property as well. In fact, wasn't there a lengthy thread about that some time ago?

 

Yep, which when the tabloids reported on failed to mention the fact that he gave false testimony to police, used an illegal firearm & shot the kid in the back. None of which makes for such an exciting read.

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People always seem to assume in these cases that the homeowner made some sort of choice to kill the intruder, but that's clearly hardly ever going to be the case.

That was exactly the case in the most high profile example of this kind of incident though.

 

You have to wait for the facts to all come out with this one, but if they were arrested on suspicion of murder, it goes without saying the Police have some evidence to suggest it was a bit more than an instinctive defensive reaction.

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The fact that some of the thieves were wearing balaclavas may add another factor to how you would react.

Terrorists?

I was thinking more along the lines of how you would view such a fact. I mean, there have been instances of "run of the mill" junkies in tracksuits breaking into folks houses to nab a telly or a dvd player or whatever, but when I think of someone with a balaclava for some reason I assume they are much more serious, and that they more than likely would have a gun or some sort of weapon.

 

That may just be me though.

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