Man who killed burglar will not face charges

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The Independent Online

By Matt Blake

A householder who stabbed a suspected burglar to death during a midnight raid on his home will not face charges.

Peter Flanagan, 59, knifed John Bennell, 27, in the chest after the masked intruder and three accomplices – one of whom was carrying a machete – smashed their way into his house in Salford, Greater Manchester, on 22 June.

Mr Flanagan walked free yesterday after the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West of England, Nazir Afzal, ruled that the garage worker used "reasonable force" to defend himself.

"I am satisfied that Peter Flanagan acted in self defence after being woken by noises downstairs in his house shortly before midnight," Mr Afzal said. "On investigating the disturbance he was confronted by intruders, one of whom was armed with a machete."

The killing came days after David Cameron said families should "feel safe in their homes" as he promised homeowners would not be punished for using "reasonable force" to protect them.

Mr Afzal said Mr Bennell's family had been told of the decision. An inquest into the death will be held in November.

Mr Flanagan, his son, Neil, 27, and the younger man's unnamed girlfriend, were awoken just before midnight by noises coming from downstairs.

When he confronted the men a scuffle broke out between him and Mr Bennell and he stabbed the man in the chest.

The gang – Martin Jamieson, 27, Wesley Gibbons, 23, and Christopher Troy, 23 – tried to drag Mr Bennell away, but left the body when they heard sirens.

All three occupants of the house were arrested at the scene.

Jamieson and Gibbons are charged with aggravated burglary, while Troy is charged with aggravated burglary and possession of a bladed article.

In England and Wales, anyone can use "reasonable" force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime.