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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 03:18 GMT 04:18 UK
Tony Martin 'a dangerous man'
Tony Martin with a police officer
Tony Martin shot two burglars
The chairman of the Parole Board has described Tony Martin, the farmer who killed a teenage burglar, as "a dangerous man".

David Hatch, 64, a magistrate, criticised Martin in an interview in Tuesday's Times newspaper.

But one of Martin's supporters said he was "amazed" at Mr Hatch's comments.

Mr Hatch told the paper: "Some newspapers decided very early on that Mr Martin was a victim of the criminal justice system and then ultimately of the Parole Board.

"I don't believe that to be true. Mr Martin was a very dangerous man. He shot a 16-year-old boy and killed him; shot him in the back at a range of about 4ft."

He shot a 16-year-old boy and killed him, shot him in the back at a range of about 4ft
David Hatch, Parole Board chairman

Martin shot dead 16-year-old Fred Barras, of Newark, Notts, after confronting the teenager in his isolated home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, late at night in August 1999.

He also shot and wounded Barras's accomplice Brendon Fearon, also of Newark.

"He had a gun under his bed which he should not have had," said Mr Hatch.

"His gun had been taken away from him because the police knew he had been using it inappropriately several times.

'Factually wrong'

"Our job, irrespective of what the press think, is to protect the public.

"We said he was a dangerous man and he should stay in. I am very glad that a High Court judge, on all five counts, saw it our way."

If you are in a lonely farmhouse miles from anywhere, as he was, and two burglars break in what are you supposed to do?
Peter Sainsbury, Martin supporter

But Peter Sainsbury, who has been assisting Martin's legal battle, said Mr Hatch was completely wrong.

"I am amazed he has made these comments. I have never heard of such a situation before. It would seem he is simply factually wrong," said Mr Sainsbury.

"All hell will break loose now. A lot of questions are going to be asked about the Parole Board.

"No-one can seriously suggest that Tony Martin is a danger to the public. It was argued quite clearly in the judicial review proceedings that he could be dangerous to burglars who broke into his house - not to anyone else.

"And a lot of people could be classed as a danger to burglars who break into their homes.

"If you are in a lonely farmhouse miles from anywhere, as he was, and two burglars break in what are you supposed to do?

Out in July

"The vast majority of the British public supports him. We have been receiving over 100 letters a day supporting him."

Martin, 58, is currently serving a five-year sentence for manslaughter. He was originally jailed for life after being convicted of murder but that conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal.

He is due to leave prison in July, after the Parole Board refused to release him on licence earlier this year.

Its decision was upheld by a High Court judge this month, when Martin attempted to seek a judicial review of the board's decision.

Martin loses early release appeal
08 May 03  |  England
Tony Martin: Crime and controversy
08 May 03  |  Norfolk

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