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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Shot burglar case sparks debate
Kenneth Faulkner
Kenneth Faulkner had been the victim of repeated burglaries
The rights of people to defend their homes have been highlighted after a judge said he could not criticise a man who shot and wounded a burglar.

Kenneth Faulkner, 73, who had endured a number of break-ins at his isolated farmhouse in Ockbrook, Derbys, has not faced any charges.

The burglar he shot, John Rae, 22, was given a seven-year jail term on Monday.

Now a number of groups are calling for the laws about confronting intruders to be clarified.

Passing sentence on Rae, Judge Andrew Hamilton said he was "an absolute menace" and it was right that Mr Faulkner was not prosecuted over the incident.

The case follows the death of Robert Symons who was stabbed to death by an intruder in his London house on 20 October.

The bottom line on this is that the victim is the householder
Roger Gale, Conservative MP
It also echoes the Norfolk farmer, Tony Martin, who was sent to prison for the manslaughter of a burglar.

Mr Martin's friend, Malcolm Starr, says the law must be changed to protect the homeowner.

"I would like to see a situation where a burglar loses all his rights the moment he dares to step on someone else's property.

"I think a lot of people would find that clarifies the law much more than them taking a risk over whether they are using 'reasonable force'."

The Conservative MP, Roger Gale, tried to put a Bill through Parliament allowing homeowners to use any force necessary to protect their property.

John Rae
John Rae had burgled Mr Faulkner's farmhouse three times
He believes burglars have only themselves to blame if they come under attack: "The bottom line on this is that the victim is the householder, the criminal is the criminal.

"Nobody makes the criminal break into your house. They choose to do it - they place themselves outside the law, they take the consequences."

Liz Blackman, MP for Erewash, which includes Mr Faulkner's home, said: "I think the judge has come to a reasonable decision.

"My understanding is that Mr Faulkner held these guns legally, had been the victim of repeated burglaries and intended the shot as a warning.

"He must have been very frightened and acted in a way we can understand."

Potential targets

William Cross is a co-ordinator for Farmwatch in the East Midlands and wants the law on protecting one's property to be tightened.

He said: "At the moment we are allowed to use such force as is necessary but there is nothing laid down in law that actually tells you what that force is.

It is up to the courts to decide what may be considered 'reasonable force'
Home Office spokeswoman
"But I think judges now are taking more positive steps to realise that the honest citizens need to be protected from the criminal fraternity."

The National Farmer's Union said those living in isolated, rural properties faced particular problems.

Alison Pratt, of the NFU, said: "As crime in our towns and cities becomes increasingly difficult, with CCTV in particular having an effect on both crime prevention and prosecution rates, thieves are looking at our rural areas for softer targets.

"Both well-planned and opportunist theft is an increasing feature of rural life and everyone living in the countryside should be aware that they are a potential target, especially of things like power tools, generators or anything portable."

A Home Office spokeswoman would not comment on individual cases.

But she said: "The Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large.

"It is up to the courts to decide what may be considered reasonable force."

Guardian Unlimited Judge stirs debate on right to self-defence - 16 hrs ago
Sky News Judge Backs Farmer Over Burglar Shooting - 29 hrs ago
Daily Mail Judge backs farmer who shot burglar - 33 hrs ago
The Sun Farmer praised for shot - 39 hrs ago
TelegraphFarmer who shot burglar backed by judge - 41 hrs ago
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