Thursday, 5 April 2018

Householder arrested on suspicion of murder

A 78-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder after a 38-year-old died of his wounds in hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The Telegraph 4th April reports - "Police said the struggle broke out after the pensioner, .... , found two men inside his home in ..... south London shortly after midnight.  One of the burglars, who was armed with a screwdriver, forced the homeowner into his kitchen while his accomplice went upstairs.  Detectives believe a struggle then took place between "one of the males and the homeowner" and the 38-year-old intruder was stabbed in the upper body."  It appears that the second intruder escaped from the scene and is still to be found.

The fact that there has been an arrest without warrant means that criminal proceedings are active for the purposes of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and so I make no comment on the actual case.  Update 7th April - no charges are to follow.

Cases where a householder is confronted by intruders can bring the law of self-defence / defence of property to the forefront and especially the concept of "reasonable force."  The law was discussed in this previous post dated 22nd January 2016 and see Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 section 76 (Reasonable force for purposes of self-defence etc).

Considerable care is required in stating the applicable law when self-defence is claimed by a householder.  The degree of force used by the defendant is not to be regarded as having been reasonable in the circumstances as D believed them to be if it was grossly disproportionate in those circumstances.  However, where the force used is disproportionate - as opposed to being gross disproportionate - then a householder may or may not be regarded as having acted reasonably in the circumstances. 

In this 2011 case, charges were not brought against the householder - Manchester Evening News 7th October 2011.

The Telegraph 7th April - Police abandoning burglary victims as two-thirds of cases closed without investigation

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