View Full Version : The difference between warped Brits and Americans

29th July 03, 11:04 PM
Threats force freed farmer into hiding

Killed teenaged burglar: Tony Martin, released after 39 months in jail, called 'dead man'

Araminta Wordsworth
National Post, with files from news services

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

A reclusive British farmer whose shotgun killing of a teenage burglar provoked a national debate about victims' rights was in hiding yesterday after being released from prison. Threats have been made against the life of 58-year-old Tony Martin, who was convicted in April, 2000, of killing one burglar and wounding another after the pair broke into his isolated farmhouse -- aptly named Bleak House -- in rural Norfolk. Mr. Martin's five-year prison sentence for the manslaughter of Fred Barras, 16, touched off a heated debate over the rights of owners to defend their property.

That debate has been reignited with his release. Supporters say Mr. Martin has been atrociously treated, being forced to serve the maximum two-thirds of his full sentence. They are also calling for changes in the law that shows in Britain a man's home -- or farm -- is no longer his castle.

Mr. Martin's life was changed forever on that August night in 1999.

That was when he shot and killed Barras and hit his accomplice, Brendan Fearon, 33, in the leg as they prepared to break into his farm, which had been the target of burglars some 30 times before. Prosecutors said the fact Mr. Martin had rigged up ladders in trees as lookout posts and removed the staircase inside the house indicated he expected to be attacked. The shooting was therefore premeditated. The case continues to rile Britons, many of whom feel the law is slanted in favour of criminals. They also say they cannot rely on the overstretched police to help them, particularly in rural areas. The farmer's release came the same day as the London Evening Standard published a police report showing there are 164 muggings a day in the British capital. That is down by one from last year's record, despite Prime Minister Tony Blair's much-vaunted street-crime initiative.

"The whole law with regards to householder rights needs reform," said Henry Bellingham, a member of the opposition Conservative Party and Mr. Martin's MP. "The law should be more weighted in favour of the householder. What we have at the moment is an assumption against the householder. If a householder takes any action against an intruder, the householder is prosecuted." In Canada, people whose homes are invaded are permitted to defend themselves if they are in fear for their lives.

In the United States, the test is less stringent. Prosecutors say the case would never have come to trial in their jurisdictions. "Here in Texas, you do have a right to defend your house," said Adrienne McFarland, the state's assistant attorney-general. "There is a specific provision which says you are allowed to use deadly force against a person committing an unlawful entry," she told the BBC. She added the householder did not even have to warn the burglar first for the self-defence argument to be valid.

Mr. Bellingham also said he had questions about why Fearon, a career criminal with more than 30 convictions, had been released early last Thursday after serving less than a third of a sentence for heroin dealing, his latest crime. Thundered one outraged newspaper: "He is a low-life career criminal who has a record as long as a giraffe's neck." In contrast, Mr. Martin, a first-time offender, was forced to serve the maximum two-thirds of his sentence. He was twice turned down for parole.

Mr. Fearon has also been given leave to sue Mr. Martin for compensation for the damage and distress caused by the shooting. He claims the incident affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts. The lawsuit may not be the last of Mr. Martin's problems. British newspapers reported members of Britain's gypsy, or traveller, community have warned he will be killed in revenge for the death of Barras, who was a gypsy. A price of 60,000 ($135,000) has reportedly been put on his head. "He's a dead man. I don't know if it will be a traveller that will do it, but it will be a proper hit man, a professional job," the Express quoted one gypsy as saying. "Something will happen to him, it's got to. And to those who say it's just talk, I'd say wait and see. The detectives can't be with him all the time, can they?" another said.

Supporters say Mr. Martin is determined to go back to his remote property, where a single yellow ribbon and a bunch of red roses had been left by well-wishers ahead of his release. A mobile police station, manned 24 hours a day, has been set up at the rundown farm in the village of Emneth Hungate in response to the threats. It is expected to be staffed for several weeks to ensure Mr. Martin's safety. The Daily Mirror said Mr. Martin had sold his story to the newspaper for an undisclosed fee. "We, like most people, do not condone the fact that Tony Martin killed somebody," said Piers Morgan, the tabloid's editor. "But we have enormous sympathy for a man who was repeatedly burgled in his own home and eventually felt compelled to take drastic action to defend himself and his property.

"The way the British justice system has treated Mr. Martin is, frankly, appalling," he said.

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The Wastrel
29th July 03, 11:08 PM
They can't be that warped if so many people seem convinced that the law needs to change.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

29th July 03, 11:39 PM
Crime will continue to get worse in the U.K. until people get good and pissed off and make some changes. A good buddy of mine just got back from living in Mildenhall for two years. He loved England, but definitely saw some tough times coming for the British public. There is a good chance I might be moving there next summer, so I'm hoping things aren't as bad as the media paints them (they usually aren't).

"Go cry about it Vargas. Aren't you late for your shift at McDonald's?"

30th July 03, 02:47 AM
The majority of crime in the UK is theft/burglary, the majority of violent crime is street mugging (which is rarely any more than the threat of violence).
The fear of crime in the UK is vastly disproportional to the amount of actual crime.

Roll on the current government being voted out, and the new government being a coalition of Conservatives and LibDems.

30th July 03, 05:33 AM
Amen, absolutely no LibDems though! I was listening to one yesterday and he pissed me off royally.

This case is a joke, he was in his own home for fuck sake.

"He claims the incident affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts."

Oh no, poor him. Excuse me if I don't shed a tear.

I nearly kicked the telly in when I heard he was trying to claim damages.

Eyes open wide, looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye.
Yes there's love if you want it, don't sound like a sonnet.

30th July 03, 11:12 AM
"Many people in the Fen villages near Emneth in Norfolk believed the "weird" farmer to be harmless. But others, who had heard him espouse his hatred for burglars and what he would do with them if he caught them, had taken to giving Martin a wide berth.

Apart from thieves, Martin's pet hate was Gypsies. Norwich crown court heard that the farmer had talked of putting Gypsies in the middle of a field, surrounding it with barbed wire and machine gunning them. Fred Barras, the boy he killed, was both of these things: a Gypsy and a thief."


"Martin killed Barras, a market trader from a Gypsy travelling family based in Newark, Nottinghamshire, last August during a late-night incident at his farm. The teenager, who had a number of convictions, was on his "first big job" to burgle Martin's home, Bleak House. He and Fearon were attacked by one of the farmer's rottweilers as they tried to get away.

The court heard that Martin, who had a vitriolic hatred for burglars and Gypsies, had come downstairs with a pump-action Winchester shotgun and fired at the two men.

Barras had pleaded for his life, shouting: "I'm sorry. Please don't. Mum." In panic, Fearon, who was seriously injured, pulled out a rotten window and he and Barras jumped through. It was not until the next afternoon that the teenage boy's body was found.

Norwich crown court heard that Martin - who took a 4ft teddy bear with him to court every day - had been repeatedly burgled and that he had laid booby traps and lookout posts for anyone who came onto his property."


"In June 1976, the farmer is alleged to have gone to a friend's house in some distress and brandished a first world war revolver: a shot was fired and a pigeon killed. In December 1987 he had an argument at his brother's house over some property. Martin is said to have got very upset and used a shotgun to smash windows.

In 1994 he had his shotgun certificate revoked after he found a man scrumping for apples in his orchard and shot a hole in the back of his vehicle. After the shooting of Fred Barras and Brendan Fearon, police recovered an old rusty shotgun from Martin's garage: another gun he should not have had without a shotgun certificate. The guns, Martin said, were for shooting pigeons.

Farms in Norfolk have long attracted travelling people...To Martin, they were nothing but "light-fingered pykies" and "bastards". A committal hearing heard that he believed "Hitler was right" in his policies towards Gypsies. His views would have pleased his uncle by marriage, Andrew Fountaine, a founder of the National Front.

Martin was a regular visitor to Fountaine's home, at Narford Hall, near Swaffham, Norfolk, not far from Bleak House. It was here that the fascist leader organised regular Aryan summer camps, which prompted the Home Office on one occasion to refuse entry permission to a number of continental fascists.

"There were a few coloured people here but they were hounded out. The locals burgled their houses and abused them.""


I should also point out that if Martin had used his illegal weapon in self defence, he would not have been charged with murder though he would still faced charge with possession of illegal weapon. He went to jail because he shot a kid in his back. His sentence were reduced becasue his mind wasn't quite right.

Only amazing thing here is the ability of media to edit and spin tha matter to make an issue which is, in fact, non existence.

30th July 03, 11:38 AM
Europe needs to get over it's irrational value it places on human lives. In the pursuit of humanitarianism, they have elevated the worth of a human life far higher than it should be.

People keep saying things like "we never condone the taking of a human life" or "it is always sad when someone dies". I say bullshit. There are some lives worth much more than others. Especially when you're talking about a heroin addict, burglar, mugger who pressed his fucking luck one too many times and tried to break into a redneck's farmhouse! Ha! That's pure fucking justice; karma if you like that word better. The ought to give that man a medal for setting a good example,

30th July 03, 12:49 PM
" so I'm hoping things aren't as bad as the media paints them (they usually aren't)."
it rarely is, Toronto wasn't THAT affected by SARS, neither was Asia
this British thing (from what i've read) doesn't seem THAT huge, hopefully it will pass soon

proportionally the numbers affected as very very minor

yes in Africa, life is crap no doubt about that

Hard work, Patience, Dedication.

30th July 03, 04:24 PM
Part of the problem is the way police targets are set. Persistant criminals are usually very aware of their 'rights', and can be hard to get convictions against due to the efforts of their legal aid lawyers. They are also partial to making complaints against the police officers who arrest them, causing the officers involved lots of aggravation. So unfortunately, some elements in the force are focussing their attentions on 'softer' targets, like the normally law abiding who inadvertantly commit minor traffic offences. These people never fight back, always turn up in court when they are supposed to, and are much less hassle to deal with, while boosting the forces arrest and conviction statistics.
Travellers are not popular targets for the police, who will often go out of their way to avoid confrontation with them (a good friend of mine is in the force, so I've got this info from them).

Samuel Browning
30th July 03, 05:13 PM
I remember Vapour and I were on a thread that discussed this issue several months ago. I will summarize the points I made then and add one more (#1).

1) The paper says Martin lost it and put a hole in the back of a man's car who was "scrumping" apples from Martin's orchard. The paper shows its bias against Martin and in favor of the socially 'disadvantaged' by calling theft 'scrumping' i.e. if we change its name its now socially acceptable. Martin was a farmer who I believe raised apples as one of his crops. I can understand why he got really angry about this event, though the question remains whether the individual was in the car when it was shot.

2) The quotation about Barras's last words looks bad for Tony but remember it is reported by someone with a bunch of convictions for theft and worse. In Connecticut, Fearon would have had a felony record and it would have been admissible to prove his lack of veracity or his word is worth shit.

3) I believe that Fearon claimed that Martin's dogs had chased them into Martin's house which is quite frankly unbelievable.

4) Lets take for granted that Martin is a bigot and hates gypsys. In low light conditions, in a matter of seconds, would he have been able to figure out that Barras was a gypsy? Probably not, therefore the information about how much of a bigot he is, verses how much he hated burglers is not particularly relevent.

5) From the pasted Guardian quote the paper downgrades Barras's criminal record by implying that it was his first big job when in reality he had previous criminal convictions that would have probably netted him a felony record if he hadn't been so advanced for his age and started getting arrested well before he was 16 years old.

6) Martin lied and claimed that he fired only one shotgun shell when he actually fired two and from a different location then he claimed in his story. He is guilty of manslaughter, based on crime scene evidence but in some states like Texas and Colorado which have an expanded view of self defense i.e. he would have skated.

7) Martin is mentally ill, no dispute over that from this writer.

30th July 03, 09:24 PM
I actually agree on most of point you made. Most of stuff listed in guardians about martin's racism or boy's previous convictions are quite irrelevant. Spinning of facts seems to be going on from both sides.

A guy was convicted because he shot someone on his back which would have happened whether it was in north America or in Europe.

Edited by - Vapour on July 30 2003 21:26:41

30th July 03, 09:30 PM
I'll tell you the difference in between the warped Brits and Americans:

In America, they make you have to take counseling for alcohol abuse and wife beating if you are convicted.

In England, they make you into a cartoon character: Andy Capp!

Why the HELL did we ever leave England?

*UNO* = One love baby!

The Wastrel
31st July 03, 01:57 AM
THAT WAS FUNNY! Bring back the real grego you alien imposter.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for ever."

Samuel Browning
31st July 03, 02:15 AM
Re being shot in the back: Lets suppose that one perp was charging Martin and the other was fleeing under low light conditions (so Martin couldn't see more then generalized movement) and the shotgun pellets spread and hit both at the same time, (one in the back). Of course my defense lawyering doesn't survive the smell test because Tony's story doesn't match this senario, but just because someone is hit in the back does not automatically mean that there is no self defense claim only that it is somewhat to very unlikely.

31st July 03, 03:19 AM
I agree with your points Samuel.

>Persistant criminals are usually very aware of their 'rights', and can be hard to get convictions against due to the efforts of their legal aid lawyers. So unfortunately, some elements in the force are focussing their attentions on 'softer' targets.

I find this very believable, I also find it extremley pathetic.

You know it's bad when the "Law" is scared of criminals, and places their "rights" above those they commit crime against.

Eyes open wide, looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye.
Yes there's love if you want it, don't sound like a sonnet.

31st July 03, 05:29 AM
Re being shot in the back: Lets suppose that one perp was charging Martin and the other was fleeing under low light conditions (so Martin couldn't see more then generalized movement) and the shotgun pellets spread and hit both at the same time, (one in the back). Of course my defense lawyering doesn't survive the smell test because Tony's story doesn't match this senario, but just because someone is hit in the back does not automatically mean that there is no self defense claim only that it is somewhat to very unlikely.

Samuel Browning

Defence which could have worked in front of jury if the guy wasn't such a racist making frequent comment about killing thieves and gypsies not to mention the fact that he booby-traped his house. Anyway, such defence is probably too intellectually challenging for this guy. I have a feeling that the guy had no idea that what he did could be wrong so he told everything about how he gun down the scum to the police.

I guess, his backgroud did matter in the case. The case only shows that criminal and mentaly unstables shouldn't be allowed to own guns. So this case really doesn't help gun advocate.

Samuel Browning
31st July 03, 11:58 AM
Of course since its his house I could argue that its doesn't matter if he builds or creates 'fortifications' I also don't remember how he specifically booby trapped his house, did he leave out a bear trap or load a 'spring gun' to be set off by a trip wire?

And if Tony was a racist in front of the jury the question still is whether these beliefs affected his actions on this evening as verses his general hatred of burglars. Now if he said something like, I assumed at the time of the shooting that all or most burglers are gypsies that would close that reasoning loop.

Often in self defense cases one does usually not find perfect or even well ajusted participants. As wacky as Martin is, if I was in his situation that night and I knew there was one or more burglars in my downstairs with no hope of timely police intervention I would have been in reasonable fear of my life, his reasoning from that point on is what got him in trouble. (one shot verses two when explaining how he acted in fear of his life)

If I may blame society somewhat, I also blame the policing system in Martin's area for fueling his paranoia by failing to address the local crime problem leaving local home owners to essentially look after themselves.

In America however Martin would have been able to keep a gun because his prior incidents had not resulted in a criminal conviction so he was not a criminal prior to this incident though he was certainly unstable, even though he had never been involuntarily committed. I would argue that this case shows that if a government is to assert that its subject do not have a right to self defense then they have an increased obligation to provide functioning police services. If they fail to do so then they are breaking their part of the social contract, leaving people like Martin to violate the law by making other arrangements.

31st July 03, 12:26 PM
though it would never go to court, i always thought it would be an interesting case to sue (probably local) the government for failing to protect its citizens in high crime areas. I think in the U.S. too, the police tend to go after easier targets. Whether that is intentional or not is difficult to say.

Anyone who makes a quick movement near me is going to get kicked in the face----WTDude

31st July 03, 04:58 PM


31st July 03, 07:16 PM
Well, booby trapping and his view of gypsy thieves are non of anyone's business until he happened to gun down someone. Then it become valid legal basis in considering the intent. He probably got charged with murder instead of manslaughter (excessive self defence) for that difference.

Samuel Browning
31st July 03, 08:13 PM
I still think that we're disagreeing on two important issues. The first is whether the facts indicated that on the night in question Tony Martin fired his shotgun having combined his hatred for burglers with his racist views. I guess I will have to do the internet search myself because I don't think you are answering that particular question, its easy to say that Martin made this jump but did he say he shot them because the were gypsy thieves at his trial?

Secondly there is a difference between fortifying a house and laying a booby trap. A booby trap is a device designed expressly to cause harm (bear trap for example) changing the envirnment to make it tougher on burglers by say removing a staircase doesn't count as such a device in my book. The Guardian didn't mention such traps in their reporting. The BBC did but they provided no details and without such details I think they could easily be jumping to conclusions. On the bright side for your argument I did find that tony was arrested years back in New Zealand on the grounds that he was an illegal alien so I have to concede that he does have some sort of criminal record.

Edited by - on July 31 2003 20:58:20

31st July 03, 09:17 PM
I should remind you that defence lawyer would have used every insinuation you are making right now if they could have use it.

If someone is convinced that something fishy went on, they would come up with all sort of excuese for Martian. However, I should remind you that such conviction is largely the result of media hype. In fact, there was no suggestion in media that there is a "legal" basis for miscarriage of justice or that defence lawyers were incompetent.

Some people just kept screaming faul play because they didn't like what this case appear to *symbolise* which is not and should not be the basis for effective defence in the court.

One of the worst example where such type of defence has worked, in my view, is O.J. Simpson case.

Samuel Browning
31st July 03, 11:07 PM
So were there actually booby traps in the house as verses missing stairs, and what were they? Did Martin actually say at his trial or to the police that burglars automatically = gypsies? Simple questions Vapour.

And yes a lawyer can make all kinds of insinuations but a lot of them don't have a background in forensic science to make good insinuations. Perhaps they didn't know enough about the crucial subject of crime scene reconstruction which is what it appears this trial came down to.

What did the scientific evidence indicate about how many shells Martin fired and where did he shoot from? He could have had very competent council who didn't know how to follow up this issue. Incidently such a mistake in the states would probably not result a successful ineffective assistance of council appeal however, not knowing how to contest this issue might have hurt Martin's case.

OJ is another issue, my summary answers are guilty, police screwed up badly enough to possibly create reasonable doubt, and the jury punted by deciding the verdict in a couple hours when the scientific evidence properly required weeks of review. However to convict O.J. I usually have to use evidence that came out at the civil trial "O.J. by the Sea" which says something about the job the prosecution did.

I'm taking a trip but will check this thread when I get back from the weekend.

1st August 03, 10:49 AM
Martin's case were very highly publicised. There were little ground for any sloppy defence. Lawyer in Britain are still regarded as highly-class professional. Ambulance chasing is unknown in this country. If there were some error in defence, media would have siezed it by now, especially if something as definitive as forensic.

Any insinuation you are making is so easy to check that it is rather implausible that it hasn't been explored by defence or by media.

Samuel Browning
5th August 03, 01:28 PM
Actually when I went on the internet doing Tony Martin name searches I was unable to find more than a sentence or two concerning the location the shotgun was fired from and how many shots were fired though it was an important issue and one that Martin's team later brought up on appeal. The boobytraps issue is one that also was not similarly explored (what specifically, where specifically) though even I admit it was potentially important. Its possible that such information was in newspaper articles that were no loaded onto the internet but I believe the term 'so easy to check' were your words not mine.

Additionally a highly publicized case does not necessarily equal good lawyering as verses competent lawyering. The best measure of Martin's defense would be more information about his lawyer's actions during his forst trial though its a shame that your country does not seem to have a national law publication which would have provided more in depth reporting. I don't have the background in your legal system to evaluate if it uniformally provides superior representation to defendants so perhaps a couple questions would help determine the skill of Martin's first lawyer.

1) was he represented by a full time public defender? (someone who does criminal law all the time?)

2) How long did jury selection last, was the jury chosen in a group or individually, and how many were dismissed as verses being challenged by either side?

3) How many murder trials had martin's counsel previously tried, and what was his win/loss record? He could be good and still have a losing record but I would hope that he would have several victories to show some skill.

Thats all the insinuaations I have for now. :)