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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Tony Martin freed: Your thoughts
Tony Martin is escorted from a prison van in October 2001 as he arrives at the High Court to appeal against guilty verdict
Freed farmer Tony Martin has said he is still angry at receiving "rough justice" over killing 16-year-old burglar Fred Barras.

Martin, who served three out of five years for manslaughter, told the Daily Mirror in a paid interview: "The world has gone quite, quite mad."

The Mirror is being investigated over whether it has broken the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice by paying a convicted criminal for his story.

The home secretary has meanwhile demanded a report into why Barras's accomplice, Brendan Fearon, was allowed out of jail early.

Is Tony Martin entitled to sell his story? What do you think of the timing of the releases? Has Mr Martin been treated fairly?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Why do I feel that nothing will change?
Shelley, UK
I think it is pretty obvious by now that that the majority back Tony Martin. If we had a decent government - something would be learned from this. Why do I feel that nothing will change and burglars will still have far more rights than their victims?
Shelley, UK

Mr Martin is not really relevant; it merely shows that the police have almost ceased to have any effect.
Steve, UK

I take the USA view. If someone threatens me, my land or my family in this way and a violent criminal tries to use violence against me - he gets it straight back. The police need to start protecting innocent people by taking violent animals off the streets permanently before they can hurt decent, hard working people like Martin (Who hadn't asked to be targeted by vicious thugs). The police couldn't handle it, so he did. Well done Tony. Right behind you.
Rick, UK

We don't want an eccentric who murders made into a hero. The UK is a safer place if we have zero tolerance for illegal guns. Defending your home is one thing, but not shooting a boy in the back.
Paul, Battersea London, UK

The statue of Justice blindfolded is meant to indicate that all will be treated equally under the law. Unfortunately, as recent events have all too clearly shown, her blindness appears to be limited to the needs of victims and decent, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of this country whilst she appears to pander to the whims of every career criminal and freeloader that comes her way. What is this country coming to? Whatever happened to good old common sense, decency and 'doing the right thing'?
TR, UK

Having a burglar in my home left me unable to function for weeks
Rose, Canada
If you can't feel safe in your home then where? Of course most people, including Mr Martin wishes the result had not been the death of a 16 year old, but who allowed that 16 year old into the house? We are all responsible for our actions, one would hope that if you take the risk to terrorize someone else's life that you should be prepared for them to stand up for themselves. Having a burglar in my home left me unable to function for weeks and unable to sleep comfortably for years. If I were to be burglarized again, I would do all that I could to protect myself. I wouldn't wait to see if it was a friendly burglar or a dangerous one.
Rose, Canada

If Fearon can sue Tony Martin for the physical injury he received while breaking into this man's home, then why can't Tony Martin sue Fearon for the mental anguish he has suffered and will continue to suffer for the rest of his life - by being persistently burgled, and now, having come out of prison is unable to return to his home without being in constant fear of his life? No amount of hi-tec security or police presence will give this man total peace of mind. The police are aware of a contract that has been put out on Tony's life and that of his dog. Why don't they make more of an effort to track down the people responsible and bring them to book instead of turning Tony Martin's home into a fortress - which in my opinion will only last until the media frenzy dies down anyway. Sadly the public have lost faith in the police and justice system and radical changes need to be made to toughen up laws and prison sentences to reflect the views of the people. Blair and Blunkett take note!
Sue W, Westcliffe-on-Sea, U.K.

Of course Tony Martin should not have shot Fred Barras. However, having been the victim of a break-in while on my own in a house, I can say that had I had a gun at my disposal I'm sure I would have used it, or anything else to defend myself. I nearly had a heart attack that night, and was shaking uncontrollably. The fright it gives you could kill you, and I can understand therefore why Tony Martin acted in the way he did. Added to this was the previous problems he had encountered with burglars. The one and only guilty person here in my opinion is Brendan Fearon for leading Fred Barras, very young and impressionable, into a dangerous situation.
Carol Cox, UK

We don't have a good Police Force anymore, we have a cheap one. This incident is the result of that in my opinion.
Chris, England

Shooting someone in the back has always been seen as the ultimate act of cowardice
Steve Stewart, UK
Shooting someone in the back has always been seen as the ultimate act of cowardice - why should this case be any different? We must ALL suffer the consequences of our actions; Tony Martin is no special case.
Steve Stewart, UK

The burglar should never have been there in the first place. Your home is your castle and the only place of sanctity we can expect...if we can't defend that, then things really have got bad.
SK, UK

What Tony Martin did was only fair. I have been the victim of four crimes and each time it has been up to me to pick up the pieces and get on with life. People who break the law not only show no respect for their victim but also for the country as a whole.
Chris, England

Tony Martin should never have gone to prison. EVERYONE should have to right to protect their property.
Pam Knight, England

At Martins appeal the "self-defence" argument was dumped and instead his barrister provided evidence that Martin had been suffering from a paranoid personality disorder which diminished his responsibility at the time of the killing. This gave the judge the power to commute this sentence to manslaughter, not as many would like to believe, public outcry. I now find it amusing that many bandwagon MP's are jumping onboard to back a man with a mental disorder to change the law.
James C, UK

Tony Martin was rightly convicted of a serious crime
Dave, UK
Maybe if Tony Martin had been attacked rather than just burgled I might feel sorry for his treatment so far, as it is he was rightly convicted of a serious crime and as such should not profit from his sentence. The rights and wrongs of the police inaction and criminals rights should be decided at the next election.
Dave, UK

The manslaughter conviction was correct. However why is one convicted criminal allowed to receive payment from and newspaper and the other able to pursue payment through the courts? If it's high profile enough crime pays.
Edmond, Ireland

It's true that nobody knows how they'd act in such circumstances but I like to think I'd behave in a better manner than shooting a teenager in the back with an unlicensed shotgun while he was running away, leaving him to bleed to death and then only show remorse after I'd left prison when speaking to The Daily Mirror.

However, at the same time, it can't be denied that an adequate level of policing would have prevented Mr. Martin from being placed in a situation where he feared for his life so much that common sense went out the window. There is plenty of blame to go round here and not all of it should be shouldered by Tony Martin, but neither should he or the Barras family forget that their behaviour was less than civilised.
Bill, UK

UK law needs a thorough review, to protect the law-abiding citizens and tax payers of the country and to penalise the criminals. Anyone who knowingly breaks the laws of the country should have their basic rights removed, to discourage these activities and avoid spurious claims for compensation. At the end of the day, law-breakers should not have rights.
Bryan, UK

Why does breaking the law mean you "give up your rights"?
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Why does breaking the law mean you "give up your rights" as so many here say? So if you're caught speeding we can shoot you? Someone claiming the dole whilst working can be given the chair? Of course they don't give up all rights... what a ridiculous thing to say.
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)

In hindsight, shooting an unarmed burglar amounts to excessive force, but I dare anyone to be alone in a house in the middle of night that is being burgled and correctly deduce whether the intruder or intruders are armed and accurately divine just how far the criminals are willing to go to satisfy their habits. Faced with strangers in one's home, it seems prudent to assume that they're armed and mean to cause harm. Why would one assume that crooks will cooperate and sit down quietly while waiting for the police to arrive?
Chris, US

I am a little disturbed by the number of people on this page who believe that an acceptable punishment for an unarmed minor caught stealing is to be shot in the back with an illegal firearm and left to bleed to death.
Joe, U.K

Even if Tony Martin was right to shoot the intruder, he certainly shouldn't have fled his house and left him to bleed to death (which apparently took some time). Why did he not phone 999 for the police and an ambulance and the boy would probably have been saved, Martin would have got a minor slap on the wrist and this case would have been forgotten about.
Peter, UK

It's one thing to have respect for the law. Another to be blinded by it
Steve, Canada
Tony Martin is yet another "martyr" in the public's growing contempt for a judicial system that often appears more concerned about protecting criminals' rights than those of their victims. I wonder if the outcome AND previous police response would have been the same if he was a politician, judge or wealthy businessman/celebrity instead of a simple farmer? As for selling his story, why shouldn't he be able to profit from this After all, he lost three years of his livelihood and has probably been financially ruined. Those who are worried that the UK would become more like the US if people like Martin were granted leniency are naive. Canada has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, yet many Canadians would support Martin's actions under the circumstances. It's one thing to have respect for the law. Another to be blinded by it.
Steve, Canada

I remember a story from the Times a few months ago. A man called police to report a burglary in progress in his shed, and was told that there were no police available to deal with it. The same man called back minutes later saying "Don't worry about it, I've just shot them." Within minutes, his house was surrounded by police cars and even a helicopter. The robbers were duly caught in the act. The police said to the man "I thought you said you had shot them", to which the man replied "I thought that you had no-one available..."
Dan, UK

I'm sitting here trying to imagine a burglar breaking into my home, I don't how many there are, whether they are unarmed, have knives or guns? I can imagine the immense fear building up inside me. I imagine that if there was a knife nearby I would grab it. Would I risk making a noise? Do I shout at them in the hope that they'll run away scared? Will they attack me if I shout to shut me up? If they incapacitate me, will by children be next? Do I strike whilst I still can? As all of this is happening, you try to explain to me about this burglar's rights. You cannot even begin to understanding this fear until you are face to face with it yourself. All those Barras supporters have no right to tell me that I cannot protect myself or my family from these scum.
M M, UK

Its only fair that he speaks out at the dubious treatment he has received
Scott, UK
Well done Tony Martin. For too long criminals have been getting away with too much. If they get hurt while committing a crime then they try and sue either their assailant or the police. I am not agreeing with the use of guns but as soon as someone enters a home without being invited then they should be forcefully removed as the homeowner sees fit. I am in total agreement that his story should be sold and more importantly told. There was huge public support for what he did and its only fair that he speaks out at the dubious treatment he has received.
Scott, UK

This is not a question of one right, one wrong - both men were in the wrong. Burglary is wrong ('though most of us take reasonable, legal steps to protect our property) and so is unlawful killing with an illegal firearm. Society must decide which is worse or if they are equal. My vote would go for killing being worse - it's irreversible, whoever it is who is killed. Tony Martin should not be able to make money from his crime. Whether or not it's illegal, it's certainly immoral.
Derek Blyth, U.K.

Where on earth has the Beeb found people from to make a case against Tony Martin? I have never spoken to anyone with such a position! Never! Maybe they'd like their home to be an open house for anyone who wanted to sell their stuff for drugs money for years on end... See how they react when the police give up trying to stop it.
Paul Sealey, England

The whole argument of whether individuals have the right to defend themselves or their property and how, is devalued by portraying this individual as somehow representative of "the man in the street". I have nothing in common that I can see with Tony Martin and the likelihood that any sensible person would respond to any event in a similar manner to him is extremely stupid.
Dave Elliot, UK

Tony Martin did the right thing by shooting them. By entering his property with the intention of stealing, they gave up their right to be treated fairly. If I broke into someone's house, I would expect any form of retaliation. One lesson has been learned from this, if you catch a burglar in the act, do as you will but don't inform the police!
Jim, England

It was the state's continued refusal to protect this man which caused him to act the way he did
Simon McEvoy, England
The system of government and the law in this country is based roughly on the idea of a social contract, in that we concede to certain limitations on our freedom in return for guarantees of safety and protection by the state. This system only holds when the state is seen to be protecting the people which respect those limitations on their freedom. Is it time to concede that the state is no longer upholding its side of the agreement? It protects law breakers and ignores the law abiding to the extent which they are forced to defend themselves in their own way. Let us remember that Martin's incident was not in isolation. It was the state's continued refusal to protect this man and his property which caused him to act the way he did.
Simon McEvoy, England

Those who praise Tony Martin's actions fail to see the wider consequences of what they are suggesting. The disturbing number of people claiming that we have a right to defend our property with firearms are probably the same people that supported the tighter control on guns following the Dunblane tragedy. To condone the use of guns as a domestic security measure can only have tragic consequences, as we have seen in the US.
Liz, UK

If he had waited to 'defend' himself until the intruders attacked him, them he would have been overpowered. Whilst I don't agree with killing someone, the man was outnumbered and probably scared. As for shooting the boy in the back, we must remember that it was dark and Mr Martin may not have been able to see clearly.
Caron, England

I think he was treated fairly. He did after all shoot someone dead. However he must have had enough of being burgled time after time. I hope a lesson can be learned with two important changes. The police need more manpower and resources to catch criminals as well as a government that is shown to adequately punish offenders when they do get to court.
Louise, UK

Since when did the UK execute people for stealing?
James, Australia
Martin shot two people with an illegal weapon. Reasonable force would have been to hold them in custody until police arrived. Vigilante behaviour is not acceptable in a civilized society. The failure of police and government are separate issues that are being used to cloud the real issue here. That murder is murder. Since when did the UK execute people for stealing? What right did Martin have to make that decision? Do Fred Barras' family now have the right to murder Martin. And then does Martin's family have the right to murder them? Where would it end?
James, Australia

To all those ill-informed people who say Martin shot the intruder in the back, here are the circumstances: It was the dead of night. His house was in total darkness. He crept out to the top landing. The intruders heard him and shone a bright torch in his face, blinding him. He panicked and shot blindly towards where the light was coming from. An intruder got killed.
Posie, France

Posie, France, that was the defence Tony Martin attempted to use in his trial, and the court didn't believe him. If he had picked and feared for his own life, that would have been understandable, but the evidence presented to the court heavily suggested he followed the intruders as they were running away. Contrary to what some people think, criminal courts make judgements based on facts and not just what the Daily Mail says.
Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

I agree with what Tony Martin did. I would do the same thing. At the end of the day the Fred Barras should not have been there at the farm, pure and simple. Martin should claim for the rebuilding of his farm house and for loss of earnings while in prison. Everyone should have the right to defend there home, by whatever means.
Wayne Hodkinson, England UK

The decision to send Tony Martin to jail was taken by twelve members of the public, chosen at random, who decided that he was responsible for murder. Anyone is entitled to use reasonable force to defend themselves or their home - the force he used was, in the mind of the jury, unreasonable. He is, therefore, a criminal, not a hero. So is Brendon Fearon. Both men have been released before they have served the whole of their sentence: what can be fairer than that?
Rob Griffiths, Bournemouth, UK

The fact that the gun was illegal also casts a shadow over Mr Martin's true intentions
Gary Dale, England
This case is not black and white. If my memory serves me right, Mr Martin seems to have been burgled so many times that, having lost faith in the police for protection, he even went to bed ready to defend himself, having a gun by his side. Surely this indicates his premeditation to kill or wound. The fact that the gun, a pump-action shotgun, was illegal also casts a shadow over Mr Martin's true intentions. However, if his property was not targeted by burglars then no-one would have come to any harm. I say, send him down for possession of an illegal weapon, but exonerate him for successfully defending himself and his property. Incidentally, I wonder what the police have learnt from all this?
Gary Dale, England/Germany

I am outraged that a burglar has a right to sue and that he get legal aid to do it with. It seems to me that in this country the legal system is to protect the criminal.
Hash, England

I am away at sea on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic and I have just had my house broken into whilst my wife was asleep upstairs. This has hugely upset her and she is now afraid to stay there. If I could get my hands on the people who did this I would probably want to take a baseball bat to them but shooting them is a little over the top - but I do have to feel some sympathy to Tony Martin for what he did.
Andrew, Bath U.K.

I think that every person who posts remarks to the effect stating that Tony Martin is a criminal should try to consider what it would have been like for him, elderly and living alone in a remote location. Being constantly burgled by heroin addicts and the like. I don't blame him one bit and like him probably would have felt threatened. He did what was natural, defending himself. He was not the attacker here and people must realise that. Who's to say that these criminals wouldn't have attacked him like happens so often these days in drug related burglaries. It's all well and good for people who live in the safety of their own homes who have never been subjected to something like this to pass judgement and not be realistic.
Mustapha Salaam, Iraq

Tony Martin is a hero. If Mr. Martin had done that in America, not only would he have not gone to jail, but he would have been celebrated about the town.
Jeffrey Cole, United States

Why was he placed in a position where hardened career criminals could ransack his home at will?
Michael McGowan, UK
Those who are so quick to condemn Tony Martin are missing the point. Martin's own conduct may well have been unjustified but the real issue is why he was effectively abandoned by the police. Why was he placed in a position where hardened career criminals could ransack his home at will? I doubt whether those who condemn him would have cared at all if he had been killed or severely injured by Fred Barras or Brendan Fearon. They would have regarded him as yet another expendable victim of violent crime. The only people whose interests his critics care about seem to be professional criminals.
Michael McGowan, UK

All I'll say is, do people really believe death is suitable punishment for a minor crime? Would you like supermarkets to shoot escaping shoplifters? Police to shoot drivers caught speeding? Get your values in order!
Ray, UK

The amount of people on this forum who are taking pity on the assumption that Barras was somehow a sweet, misled and innocent 16 year old is seriously disturbing. Let's look at this simply. Fred Barras would very likely still be alive and well if he wasn't committing crime and raiding other people's property. He had no right to be on Martins property full stop! What Mr Martin did was send a clear message to would-be thieves/criminals that honest law abiding citizens are not a soft touch as they imagine.
Andrew, UK

It is astonishing that Martin has been released at this stage in his sentence without showing the slightest remorse. He is a dangerous man. It may be that his past experiences have made him feel vulnerable and threatened - this may arouse our sympathy but does not give him a carte blanche to kill. Having read details of the, on any account, paranoid measures he took to 'defend' his house, and given the circumstances of the shooting, there is a good case that Martin should have been detained for assessment under the Mental Health Act.
SH, UK

Everyone I have spoken to supports Tony Martin
Alan, UK
I cannot believe that the comments selected to appear here represent a true cross section of opinion. Everyone I have spoken to supports Tony Martin and the actions he took to defend himself. I don't know a single person who thinks he has been fairly treated. Yet I see comment after comment here attacking Martin as if he were the real criminal.
Alan, UK

It is absolutely disgusting that Tony Martin had to go to jail at all - the only person in jail should be the burglar. Tony Martin is not responsible for the death of the other guy - the other guy took a chance and lost.
K Smith, USA

The law (if that is what it is) in this country is more in favour of the criminals than the victims and the term crime does not pay is now a laughing matter. Some time ago I was a victim of a fraud. I had to pay the money that had been fraudulently gained from the garage I work in and no-one could help me. The guy that committed the crime got off on a stupid technicality; myself & a colleague were left to pay the bill. There is no justice left in this country of ours.
C. Higham, England

Last year I had my flat broken into, totally ransacked, and the majority of my possessions of any worth stolen (including, unbelievably, vital medicines, contact lenses, and sentimental items). Despite several calls to the police, it took them TWO HOURS to arrive; and despite my constant enquiries in the days, weeks, and then months that followed, they told me the case would 'eventually' be dealt with. Eighteen months later I still have not heard a thing - and I know mine is not an isolated case of police incompetence/disinterest. Thus, I have total sympathy for Tony Martin and his actions, considering he suffered my awful situation many times over.
Earnie, UK

As far as I'm concerned, it is 'reasonable' to consider someone breaking and entering as a genuine threat to your life, and he simply acted accordingly. At what level of personal assault would it be legal for him to fight back?
Christopher Cormier, Canada

If someone deliberately acquires an illegal gun that is a premeditated act in itself
Sharon, England
We have more to fear in this country with people getting hold of illegal weapons than 16 year old burglars. It is impossible to send out a clear message that guns are dangerous and unacceptable in a civil society if we condone the actions of people who use them to kill. If someone deliberately acquires an illegal gun that is a premeditated act in itself - to use it when the opportunity arises. You can't pick and chose which laws you abide just because others might, otherwise we would just descend into anarchy. Shame on British justice that Martin is back on the streets. He's learnt nothing. The rest of us should.
Sharon, England

Having recently being burgled myself, I have every sympathy with Tony Martin, as indeed I have since the shooting. Yes, it was terrible that a 16 year old was shot but he wasn't innocently walking down the street when it happened. He had travelled some distance with other like minded delinquents with the intent to break into a house and steal what did not belong to them, from a man so frightened that he had taken great steps to defend himself. They shouldn't have been in his house, just like the people who came into my house had no right to be there. It would be interesting to know what percentage of Mr Martin's critics have actually suffered the violation of their own home in this way.
S Forrest, UK

Burglars do not break into house unarmed. All the common house breaking tools have been used in murders.
Michael, England

The Home Office says it's wrong for an individual to attack when faced with a threat. Yet the Foreign Office says it's right to attack when faced with a threat if your name is Tony Blair. The individual has the attacker on their property, and standing before them. The country has an "attacker" the other side of the world who hasn't expressed any threat whatsoever. Tony Martin's actions were illegal, Tony Blair's were legal. Can Mr Blunkett explain this please?
James, UK

Shooting someone in the back can never be self-defence
Frances Gregory, Poland
Self-defence is only an acceptable defence when a person is in imminent physical danger, and the force used must be commensurate with that danger. Shooting someone in the back can never be self-defence. In Britain there is no death penalty for any crime. Those people who support Mr Martin's actions should also support the return of the death penalty for burglary. I doubt that many of them would do so. Of course it is an absurdity to compensate intruders, but this is no more absurd than paying the person who shot them.
Frances Gregory, Poland

In its way the law has failed Fred, Tony and society generally. Fred Barras should not have been at liberty to burgle Tony Martin's farm. If he'd been locked up he would at least still be alive. I wonder how many people passing comment on this issue have bought goods knowing they are stolen? Stop buying from thieves and reduce the incentive. Life must always be valued above property but this case has again highlighted how out of touch the law is.
Jenni, Bristol, England

Martin had an illegal weapon, had modified a shotgun to inflict the greatest wound possible and then pursued the burglars through his house and shot them as they were running away. This was not 'defending himself'. I think manslaughter was the right charge and he has now served his time. The British public have mixed messages - they want 'criminals' to go to jail for long periods but obviously they want to pick and choose which criminals.

I welcome Blunkett's announcement that the law will be changed to prevent criminals getting legal aid to sue their victims but equally Martin should not get 100,000 for killing someone. What next - the American experience of paperboys being killed as 'burglars'?
Mary, UK

Hitting Barras in the back was due to him bending to pick up loot
John, UK
The established facts show he did not pursue through his house and hitting the Barras criminal in the back was due to him bending over to pick up pieces of loot. Why are you allowing incorrect statements on this forum?
John, UK

Tony Martin should never have been prosecuted. The British Government is guilty of dereliction of duty for failing to protect the public. Our laws, which are supposed to protect people, are nothing but a sick joke and weighed in favour of criminals and thugs who are destroying our nation. Small wonder that no one respects the law any longer. Successive governments have let us down. Meanwhile, we the public have to foot the bill for their incompetence.
Lomond Handley, UK

To Lomond Handley (and others): If you think the system is wrong - don't moan about people who are there trying to do something for you, however misguided you may think it is - do something about it! I am sick of reading whinge after whinge in these pages. If you think something is bad - change it! Think Jill Morell, think Megan's Law - it just takes a bit of dedication.
Nigel, UK

There are faults on all sides
Angela, UK
I have been the victim of a robbery and found the man standing in my lounge surveying my property, deciding what to take. Nothing can prepare you for the fear and anger you feel. I don't believe anyone has the right to take a life, neither state nor individual but how can anyone possibly understand what Martin had gone through to get him to that state of mind. Martin was wrong to shoot but they were also wrong to break into his home.

There are faults on all sides - the law, the police, justice as well as Martin, Barras and Fearon. We all need to learn from this case, let Martin get on with his life and hope that Fearon has learned his lesson and will not re-offend. The police, justice and law need to put their own houses in order to ensure that the public are protected from repeat offenders so that we don't end up with another Tony Martin in the future.
Angela, UK

Martin is a common criminal. He should thank his lucky stars he was punished so lightly for the cowardly act of shooting an unarmed man in the back, and slink away quietly into obscurity. Nothing would repulse me more than this convicted killer "spearheading" some sort of macabre campaign for, well, for what exactly? More killing of unarmed burglars? The whole sorry story is something of a disgrace, and there should be no heroes - not Martin, not Fearon, not Barras.
David Parsons, USA - expat Brit

The sooner the law allows a resident to defend his property with deadly force, the sooner criminals will think twice before entering it. That the law of this country stands on the side of a criminal is ludicrous. How does anyone know the mindset of someone entering your property set to steal? They might run away if they find someone in or attack them with deadly force. You the resident are supposed to know this telepathically!

I will use deadly force anytime my house is invaded and my safety and that of my wife/children and property is concerned. I work hard for what I have and I will not just allow someone to walk off with it. The criminals take the risk by doing what they do, they must then take responsibility for any action that maybe taken against them. This incident is far wider than what has happened here and is an indictment on our whole society in the UK.
CJ, UK

The law in this country is created for the people by representatives of the people
Simon Watson, UK
Tony Martin was jailed because the law said he should be, and for no other reason. We now have large numbers of people saying they feel it was wrong to jail him. The law in this country is created for the people by representatives of the people. If you feel there's something wrong with the law, go out and change it, that's what democracy is all about, isn't it?
Simon Watson, UK

I believe that Mr Martin should have the right to protect his property, but shooting someone in the back appears to be 'over the top'. However, to break into someone's property must involve forfeiting at least some of your rights, if not the right to life.
M. Lewis, UK

Martin received a fair trial. But the premature release of the convicted burglar is an insult. Martin should receive compensation from the police for having been subjected to all this ordeal and mental agony on account of their failure to protect him in time.
Saravan, UK

I think that media views on Martin's actions are too extreme - he is either portrayed as a hero or a villain. He is neither, but simply an innocent farmer who acted on instinct to defend his property. It was right to imprison him for manslaughter, as a burglar should not face death for his/her crime. However, it should be clear that criminals face a certain risk when committing their crimes and so Fearon should not be allowed public legal aid for his 'case' against Martin.
Ian Williams, UK

A person's home is their sanctuary
Fredrica, UK
People are acting as though Martin thought it through and decided to execute someone. He did what he did on the spur of the moment, and in the same circumstances I think I would have done the same. It is unfortunate that someone died, but the message has to be given to would-be burglars that the law is not on their side if these crimes are to be stopped. A person's home is their sanctuary, and people who violate this should not be protected by law.
Fredrica, UK

The simultaneous release of Brendan Fearon and Tony Martin only goes to illustrate the state of the British 'injustice' system. Martin was the victim here, yet because he 'showed no remorse' has been forced to serve most of a sentence that was wrong in the first place.
Martin, Notts, England

All this attention that Tony Martin is getting is a disgrace. He is a criminal. He shot someone in the back, as he was running away - that is not self-defence.
Johnson, UK

You can kill to protect yourself, but not to protect your property
Sam Peel, UK
Martin has been treated fairly. English law holds human life above property. You can kill to protect yourself, but not to protect your property. This is only right. Yes, he had been the victim of burglaries, but it did not give him the right to kill. The circumstances were taken into account, which is why he got five years for manslaughter, and not life for murder. He should count himself lucky. And those who see it as odd that the police are putting all these measures in place at his house now, when they didn't before, well, now his life is at risk. The law is seeking to protect that, not his property, and this is again only right. I think he has been treated very fairly.
Sam Peel, UK

If the police cannot find the resources to combat burglary effectively then we should not punish those who take the law into their own hands when they try and protect their property.
Martina, UK

Tony Martin's actions deserve a medal not a prison sentence. When someone breaks into your home, they do not give you an opportunity to find whether they are armed or intend to do you harm, so you are forced to act blindly against them. They put you in that position, so they should hardly be able to rely on the law to protect them when their burglary attempt then goes wrong. The Tony Martin case demonstrates just how backwards our legal system is - it bends over backwards to protect the criminal, while the victim pays the price.
Peter Preston, UK

The penalty for burglary in this country is not death by vigilante
Peter Swann, UK
The penalty for burglary in this country is not death by vigilante. Tony Martin is not judge, jury and executioner. The law has been done in both cases. One of the burglars went to prison for burglary and Tony Martin went to prison for manslaughter. He isn't a martyr. The UK doesn't have anything to learn from the USA with regard to justice, freedom of speech or press censorship. I fail to see how our jailing of a person who blasted a 16 year old unarmed burglar (not murderer/psychopath) to death whilst he was running away makes us hypocritical in our criticism of US Gun control.
Peter Swann, UK

This case highlights a fundamental problem with the law. The law takes away the right to protect our property and hands that duty to the police. The police are under resourced and consider burglary a minor crime. The whole country should be insisting on a change of law that allows for defence of property when police take no action.
Bob Wallum, Scotland

If we had crime under control there would be no need for these issues to ever arise. Imagine the man's frustration at having his home consistently broken into. The lack of support from where it should come leads people to feel they must tackle things themselves. Until government and police instil some fear into criminals about their actions little will change to improve situations like these. His actions were wrong, but society is equally wrong in failing to protect and support such people.
Chris, UK

It saddens me beyond words that so many people seem to think the action of shooting a teenager in the back to be not only defensible but commendable. Judging by the content of the majority of postings here, it seems to me that Britain is in a terrible state - how people can hold such opinions truly beggars belief.
Peter, Lancaster, UK

Now I see that the police are happy to get up camp outside Mr Martin's farm to protect him from further crimes, where were they four years ago?
Colin B, London, UK

A decent police force would have dealt with the repeated burglaries. Instead, Tony Martin was left to fend for himself! I hope the police are ashamed.
Lawrence Brown, UK

He pursued the two men through his house
Phil Wilson, UK
As a law student who has comprehensively examined the case material from the Martin case, it is evident that most people don't realise he pursued the two men through his house. When he found them he then fired his pump action shotgun three times. Hardly self defence.
Phil Wilson, UK

I sympathise with Tony Martin but, awful though burglary is, it does not warrant a death sentence.
Kulu, UK

It's interesting to note that if Mr Martin had been residing in the US there stands the possibility he may actually have been rewarded for his actions rather than punished. The fact that in this country it is deemed unreasonable for citizens to defend themselves in their own homes throws justice out of the window.
Richard Brooks, UK

Let's not forget that Tony Martin shot a 16-year-old boy in the back as he was running away. Regardless of whatever crime he thought was being committed, he himself slaughtered someone as they tried to flee. He deserves the sentence he originally received and I am appalled he is being released so soon.
Andrew, UK

Of course Mr Martin has not been treated fairly. The law should either protect law abiding folk such as Mr Martin or give him the right to protect himself. That it has chosen to do neither is its failing.
Kevin, England

Martin has been seriously let down by the law
AV, England
Although I still believe that the law is the law and it was only right for Martin to serve some time in prison for manslaughter, I can't help but feel that Martin has been seriously let down by the law just by the fact that the criminal he was trying to protect his family from spent less time in prison than he did. Why is law still trying to protect the rights of criminals and ignoring those of people who want to feel safe in their homes? Perhaps it wasn't Tony Martin's place to do the police's job but if they had done their job in the first place then he wouldn't have taken such extreme measures.
AV, England

Mr Martin probably did deserve to go to prison on manslaughter charges, but what is so galling about this situation is that the upholders of the law were so tied down by the law profession that they couldn't stop the like of Fearon from burgling Mr Martin's house 30 times previously. My wife and I lie in fear every night with a mobile phone by our side in case we are burgled. Even then, we are concerned that the police may never come or that if they do, the perpetrator would get not much more than a slap on the wrist. What is our society coming to?
Mike Fairburn, England

Martin has been lucky. I believe he showed no remorse for the killing, and the attempt of some of the tabloids to whip up sympathy for him is disgraceful.
John, UK

This case is turning into one of the worst cases of law versus justice I've ever had the misfortune to hear about. People who break the law like Barras and Fearon did should have no rights as they have so clearly denied those rights to their victims. It's time the police worked in support of the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators
Ant, UK

Its time the law was balanced in favour of the innocent homeowners protecting what they have worked hard for, instead of the criminals and drug users who give nothing to society. Tony should have been given a medal not sent to prison.
Dean, England

Good luck Tony Martin, everyone I have spoken to supports you and agrees with what you did. We should be allowed to defend our property with any amount of force. The police let you down and so did the so-called justice system in this country. It sickens me to think this burglar may be allowed to sue you for loss of earnings.
Stephen, GB

Surely a warning shot would have been enough?
Colin, Scotland
Why did he see fit to shoot both of them? Surely a warning shot would have been enough? You don't protect yourself with a shotgun, you hunt and kill with it.
Colin, Scotland

An Englishman's home used to be his castle. Now, it appears, unwelcome intruders can be repelled by "reasonable force", whatever this means, but if the intruder is injured in some way, howsoever caused, that intruder has the right to sue for damages. So what about the poor homeowner? Does he have the right to sue for unlawful entry, or injuries sustained during a burglary?
It's time that the law was reviewed and the courts' time wasted no further on allowing criminals to pursue ridiculous claims. If one is uninvited into a home, then it should be the right of the homeowner to repel that person, using whatever force is necessary, particularly if the intruder is armed. Furthermore, criminals should have no right to sue any homeowner for damages following injuries sustained during their repulsion.
C R Hayden-Gilbert, Thailand

As an American citizen - I am amazed - Tony Martin would probably be mayor of his community by now - instead he is walking from jail - a country as great as the UK can sometimes amaze me!
Anastasia Beaverhausen, London, UK

Martin killed someone with an illegal shotgun. He is being freed after a tiny sentence that if applied to a drunk driver would meet cries of disgust. This lenient sentence signals the acceptance of the gun as dispenser of justice - quite awful.
David, UK

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Martin wanted to injure the burglars, and proceeded to do just what he wanted to in that regard. Watching this from the US, it is difficult to consider Britain's very vocal criticism of US gun control laws to be anything but rank hypocrisy.
Sean Murray, USA British ex-pat

We live in an age where the criminal and thug rule and are more protected than the victim. Why did Fearon spend less of his sentence in jail than Tony Martin? I suspect many people in the UK will be wanting to send messages of support to Tony Martin - myself included.
Jeff Duncan, Salisbury, UK

Perhaps, for once, the United States have got it right...you have a right to protect yourself and your property. If such an incident was to be more widespread, then perhaps we would see a significant reduction in similar crimes of greed. As to the early release of Fearon, well is anyone really surprised? We, in the UK, are in a mess. Shouldn't we take a leaf out of the former New York Mayor Gulliani's book and adopt a zero-tolerance for greed and drug crime?
Thomas MacIntyre, UK

Maybe it was murder maybe it wasn't. Did Martin pull the trigger out of fear or anger? Was a crime wrapped up in another crime? I do not think so and Martin should have never gone to prison.
Jonny, UK

Decent people would not lie in wait to kill intruders
Bernard, UK
Decent people would not lie in wait to kill intruders; they would let the police deal with the situation.
Bernard, UK

To Bernard - easy for you to say 'Decent people would not lie in wait to kill intruders' - equally 'Decent people do not terrorise and rob people in their own homes' - and let's see how you would react if you had been victimised as frequently as Tony Martin - try walking in his shoes before you pass judgement!
Billy Duncan, Dundee, Scotland

Just wondered if Bernard (UK) finds it acceptable that nothing was done in the last 25+ previous visits from the police? I for one would have done exactly the same being put in that situation. The only crime was that Martin never aimed the gun high enough on the scumbag on that occasion.
Andy, UK

Bernard, you obviously live in the city, because that was the whole point, Tony Martin could not rely on the police to "deal with the situation", as all the previous burglaries from his farm are evidence of. The total lack of effective rural policing means that people like Fearon and his ilk can behave without any fear of detection or arrest. In the area of Sussex where I live we have at best one car and three officers to police an area of approx 100 square miles overnight - this despite the increased council tax this year.
Grae, England

He was let down by police after each of the 30-odd burglaries to his farm and finally snapped. Then he has to suffer the final indignity of being kept in prison way longer than your average professional criminal just to satisfy the whims of the PC lobby.
Richard Mottershead, UK

That Mr Martin was jailed for protecting himself gives no-one any hope.
LP, UK

The law permits us to do nothing in this situation
Tom Franklin, UK
Any discussion of "reasonable force" rests upon the premise that certainty exists - that would be the only way in which to appraise and rate "reasonable". However, if a homeowner is confronted with a burglar, complete uncertainty is introduced. In Mr Martin's case not only were there two against one, but they shone a torch straight into his eyes. There was no way he could have known what was to happen next. They created this scenario, not him.

So, what is "reasonable" here Mr Blunkett? Wait to be murdered? The law as it stands only permits us to do nothing in this situation - we cannot even attempt to restrain the burglar because we cannot evaluate "reasonable force" because we cannot even see them! The law as it stands, means the intruder has the final say in what happens.
Tom Franklin, UK

That Tony Martin was ever jailed was a complete travesty. What is even worse is the criminal trying to sue Mr Martin for damages for loss of earnings. Mr Fearon should think himself lucky he wasn't shot dead also, and count that as his "reward".
Tony Parkes, Coventry, England




SEE ALSO:
Tony Martin: Crime and controversy
13 Jun 03  |  Norfolk
Martin determined to return home
25 Jul 03  |  Norfolk
Martin badge to boost appeal fund
24 Jul 03  |  Norfolk


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