Self defence stories from England

These are extracts from stories about homicides in England found by searching Factiva for “self-defence and (burglar or robber)”.


No Charge Over Death Of Burglar.

By Duncan Campbell Crime Correspondent.
23 January 1996
The Guardian

A businessman will not be prosecuted over the death of a burglar he tackled at his home, the Crown Prosecution Service announced yesterday.

The service said there was insufficient evidence to bring any charge against Hungarian-born Niklos “Nick” Baungartner, from the village of Ockbrook in Derbyshire.

Mr Baungartner confronted Robert Ingham, aged 22, in the kitchen on December 30 last year. The fight moved into the front garden where Mr Ingham suffered a severe neck injury from which he died. Mr Baungartner, who had tried vainly to attract help from passing motorists, ran to neighbours for help.

He suffered a broken wrist, bruising and shock.

Mr Baungartner was very distressed by the intruder’s death.

After a detailed investigation, Derbyshire police concluded that Mr Ingham’s injuries were entirely consistent with Mr Baungartner’s version of events.

People are entitled to use “reasonable force” to protect themselves against an intruder or to prevent a crime.

In a brief statement, a Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “The evidence has been considered and it is insufficient to justify any criminal proceedings against Mr Baungartner.” Usually such a decision takes longer than three weeks but it is understood that the police had carried out a very detailed and speedy investigation.

Mr Baungartner, a tennis court contractor, said he had been terrified when confronted by Mr Ingham. He broke down at a press conference, and said that the experience would scar him for life. “I will never be a man again.” He said he had broken down several times since the incident.


Man was ‘justified’ in stabbing burglar – Trial.

16 July 1996
The Times

A man who came home to find a burglar ransacking his flat was fully justified in seizing a kitchen knife and stabbing him, a judge at the Old Bailey said yesterday. The burglar, Brian Firmager, 32, later died from a heart attack on the operating table at Guy’s Hospital, where his accomplice, Tony Garrard, had taken him after they fled.

Firmager had attacked John Campbell with a pepper spray and baseball bat when he returned to his home and disturbed the burglars. “I have not the slightest doubt that, in my judgment, Mr Campbell was fully justified in what he did in lawful self defence,” Brian Higgs, QC, the Recorder, said. He jailed Garrard for six years for the aggravated burglary at Mr Campbell’s flat in Holborn, London, last January.

“Thugs like you who attack householders in this country and subject them to the violence that you two did cannot be surprised if the householders fight back in self-defence,” the judge told Garrard.

When Garrard, 34, from Lee, southeast London, heard of the death of Firmager, he went to police in tears and confessed, the court was told. “He still experiences the agony of it,” Geoffrey Cox, for the defence, said. “This man has had it brought home to him the sheer absurdity, folly and error of his ways.”

The Crown Prosecution Service had considered prosecuting Mr Campbell but decided not to take action as it was considered to be self-defence. Mr Campbell, who needed three stitches after the attack, is awaiting trial on two drug-related matters.


Man who killed burglar escapes prosecution.

15 June 1994
Reuters News

A British man who killed a burglar he found stealing from his parents’ home escaped prosecution on Wednesday after a coroner ruled he acted in self-defence.

Dean Davis, 33, was visiting his parents’ home to measure up their windows for curtains when he caught the burglar in the act and stabbed him after a scuffle. Police found an array of weapons including a pickaxe handle and a chisel on the dead man, 43-year-old Patrick Halcrow.

The coroner at the inquest in Essex, west of London, recorded a verdict of lawful killing.

Davis admitted carrying a knife but the state prosecutor, the Crown Prosecution Service, said it would not be taking legal action against him in light of the coroner’s verdict.


Sentence is cut for ‘breadknife’ father who killed burglar

Colin Fernandez
10 December 2003
Daily Mail

A father jailed for stabbing a violent career burglar to death had his sentence cut yesterday after a judge said it was not surprising he had armed himself with a breadknife to defend his family.

Barry-Lee Hastings is expected to walk free in three months after his five-year sentence was reduced to three by the Court of Appeal.

Hastings, 26, knifed Roger Williams 12 times while the burglar was ransacking his family’s home.

He said he acted to protect his two children after mistaking a crowbar in the burglar’s hand for a machete.

Hastings, a gas engineer, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter by a 10-2 majority verdict at his original trial at the Old Bailey in September last year.

Yesterday, in the Court of Appeal, Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, said: ‘It must be an alarming experience for anyone to find themselves outside the home in which his wife and children are believed to be living and there is an intruder in that house.

‘In those circumstances it is not surprising that the person concerned should arm himself with a weapon which was readily available.

‘The problem, of course, is that after you arm yourself with a knife and then there is an incident it is all too easy to use it with disproportionate force and make use of a weapon which is wholly disproportionate to the danger in which you are in and this is what happened in this case.’ Hastings told the Old Bailey he had visited the house in Tottenham, North London, thinking his estranged wife Nicola and children, Ashley, two, and Barry-Lee, three, were at home.

He picked up a knife from the kitchen to defend himself when he Williams coming towards him with the crowbar.

Hastings said he feared for the safety of his family. In fact, they were not at home, but he was unaware of this.

When he saw 35-year- old Williams in a bedroom, ‘instinct’ took over and a struggle broke out which spilled outside, where Williams was stabbed. ‘Every time I hit him I believed I was protecting my children,’ said Hastings. But the court heard that many injuries to Williams’s back and head were inflicted while he was lying face down.

Lord Woolf said Hastings could not claim to have acted in selfdefence.

‘We are not sending out a message that it is appropriate to use knives in the situation which existed in this case in the manner in which the appellant used that knife,’ he added. Williams had a criminal record stretching back to 1983, which included assaulting an 80-year-old man, a knifepoint raid on a minicab office and an axe attack.


Faced with a robber’s empty shotgun, a ‘bloody great big hero’.

Cahal Milmo.
22 June 2000
The Independent – London

Richard Watkins is not a typical village postmaster, as a biker of 6ft 4in with long grey hair, a bushy beard and a talent for electronic wizardry.

But yesterday, in Wolverley – a picture postcard village near Kidderminster – he was a celebrated postmaster and, in the words of one resident, “a bloody great big hero”.

The previous morning, Mr Watkins, a 50-year-old bachelor described as “a gentle giant”, found himself fighting off with a knife an armed robber. Scott Griffiths, the jobless plasterer who had burst into the post office wearing a balaclava and waving a sawn-off shotgun, died later from his stab wounds.

Griffiths, 28, who had convictions for burglary, assault and theft, received a fatal stab wound to the chest when Mr Watkins grabbed the four-inch lock-knife he uses to open bundles of newspapers, and lunged at his attacker.

Griffiths was found dead within an hour, in the back of a blue Ford Sierra used as a getaway car. The two men who were allegedly with him were nowhere to be seen.

West Mercia police announced soon afterwards they were treating the sub-postmaster as a victim of a “terrifying and life-threatening” crime. His customers, friends and neighbours agreed yesterday that he was the victim.

Ms Watkins said she would be “very surprised” if charges were brought against the postmaster, adding: “He was really acting in self-defence. He didn’t know initially that the gun wasn’t loaded.