Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 14:10 UK

Anger over burglar murder charge

By Anthony Bartram
BBC News

Omari Roberts
Omari Roberts spent a night behind bars after being charged

Omari Roberts has seen his status change from victim to the accused and then back to victim again - all in the space of a year.

He was a young man with no police record who came up against two teenagers who Nottinghamshire Police knew well.

He caught them red-handed, ransacking his mother's house in the city's Heathfield Road in March last year.

The 23-year-old trainee builder had popped in for lunch, but was confronted in the kitchen by a 14-year-old boy armed with a knife.

The youth, who can't be named for legal reasons, fled with a leg wound after Mr Roberts got the upper hand.

Tyler Juett
Tyler Juett died in March last year

But it didn't end there, because he was then approached by the other burglar and another fight broke out.

Tyler Juett, 17, was stabbed in the shoulder, severing an artery, and he died by the time paramedics got him to hospital.

Seven months later and after numerous police interviews, Omari Roberts was formally charged with murder.

Since then Mr Roberts' family has fought to get the charges dropped and have helped launch a campaign called Safe as Houses.

The group is calling for clarification of the law for people who are faced with intruders in their home.

The Crown Prosecution Service had been expected to open its case in a trial against Mr Roberts on Monday, arguing the violence he used was "gratuitous".

This happened in my home - not a playground, not a community centre or a nightclub. It was my home
Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson

Instead they have offered no evidence - something the 23-year-old's mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson said should have been obvious from the start.

"This happened in my home - not a playground, not a community centre or a nightclub. It was my home." she said.

"They didn't seem to take this into consideration, and when you hear charged with murder..."

The 47-year-old Nottingham City Council manager shook her head and said she could not forgive the CPS for the way they had treated her son.

She described their failed attempt to contest his bail, resulting in him spending a night behind bars, as malicious.

His defence team summed up the choices Omari Roberts had to make at an earlier hearing, saying he was "damned if he did, dead if he didn't".

Omari Roberts and Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson
Omari Roberts and his mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson

Mr Roberts has yet to comment on the decision to drop the charges against him.

His solicitor Jonathan Eppelle said: "There's a mixture of feelings, because obviously somebody has died.

"So it is not something to celebrate, but we are delighted for Omari that he will not have to go through a trial.

"We are also angry because it was seven months before he was charged and then seven months after that we hear that they will drop it.

"The whole debacle has been an outrage and our QC is going to have a few choice phrases to say about this."

Mrs McKenzie-Johnson said what happened to her son has inspired her to help others who find themselves in a similar situation and to keep up the pressure for more legal clarity in such cases.



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SEE ALSO
Burglar murder charge is dropped
19 Apr 10 |  Nottinghamshire
Stab murder charge to be dropped
10 Apr 10 |  Nottinghamshire
Mother fights son's murder charge
12 Jan 10 |  Nottinghamshire
Trial for burglar murder accused
10 Nov 09 |  Nottinghamshire


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