I read an interesting story yesterday about a man, Mr Roberts from Nottingham, who protected his mother’s home by stabbing two burglars. The man had been charged with murder but he was acquitted this week.

Apparently, when he came to her house he found the patio door of the semi-detached house in Nottingham smashed to pieces. So he grabbed a kitchen knife from a drawer nearby to protect himself and then he was attacked by a 14-year-old burglar, who was brandishing a blade. In the struggle the youngster, who hasn’t been named for legal reasons, was stabbed twice in the leg and then was chased off the property by Roberts. The second burglar Mr Juett, was upstairs checking a bedroom. He then rushed down the stairs to confront Mr Roberts. In the fight Mr Roberts sadly stabbed the teenager in the shoulder which severed one his major arteries resulting in the burglar’s death.

The 14 year old accomplice told the police that Mr Roberts had chased him outside and then stabbed him outside of the property this was key to the investigation. The fact that he said it happened outside and then Mr Roberts went back into the house armed with a knife to get the other burglar is the reason Mr Roberts was acquitted.

Mr Roberts on the other hand, was clear with the police he said he stabbed both burglars in the house as self defence, it was the other burglar that had said he had chased him out.

The idea to prosecute Mr Roberts is interesting and it all stemmed from the stabbing outside in the criminals statement. This is because the prosecution said he could have called the police rather than going after them in vengeance or retaliation. By definition this isn’t self defence and it is clearly breaking the law.

However, the 14-year old changed his story and admitted when was re-interviewed by the police. He then told them he had been waiting for the other burglar outside the house which matched Mr Roberts statement. In other words Mr Roberts never actually went outside of the property. This in the eyes of the law shows he was simply protecting his home in self defence not retaliation. He was simply frightened and outgunned and did what most people would do pick something up to protect themselves.

The Independent’s article reported:

In a press conference immediately following the hearing, it emerged some police officers did not want the case to be brought against Roberts.

His mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson, 47, said the law now needed to be clarified.

At present home-owners are not allowed to use “unreasonable force” but there have been calls for it to be strengthened so that only “grossly disproportionate force” would warrant prosecution.

She said: “There’s a need for clarification on ‘reasonable force’. I particularly believe that when you are faced with an intruder in your own home, the expectation that you behave reasonably doesn’t seem to fit.

“There are number of things that have had a bearing and I am sure that the General Election had something to do with it. Also, the overwhelming support we have had from the public may have influenced the decision as well as the fact there was no evidence.”

In the eyes of the law you are allowed to protect your property, including the garden, but once you go off your property you should phone the police as this could then be seen as overly aggressive. This event apparently actually all happened inside the property. So it is seen as reasonable for Mr Roberts to have picked up a kitchen knife, when he had two armed burglars in his house. The intent was simply to defend himself and his mother’s home.

The law doesn’t need changing

The laws are there to protect us, personally I don’t feel the law actually does need clarifying. The general public just need to understand the law better. The mistake here was from the police and forensics in my opinion. If they had interviewed the younger burglar earlier they could have got the true story from him. I don’t know what the reason was why they didn’t sort this side of the investigation out immediately. Because once they got to the truth it all became clear and the charges were dropped.

Questions that need answering

My questions are these:

  1. Why did it take the police to get so long to the truth?
  2. Should the police take witness statements from known criminals with the same amount of validity as an innocent man protecting his mother’s home?
  3. If all of these events did take place in the house why didn’t the forensic evidence either back up Mr Roberts’s story and negate the 14-year olds story?

As you can see there are more questions than answers here but the law is clear if you are scared for your life you can protect yourself in your own property. However, you simply can’t chase someone down the street with a machete and attack them and expect to get away with it as that would never be seen as reasonable.