Police arrest man who fatally stabbed burglar

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The Independent Online

A householder was arrested yesterday, accused of stabbing to death a suspected burglar.

The intruder was said to be among four masked men who tried to smash their way into the property in Salford, Greater Manchester.

It comes 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 themselves.

The dead man, 26, was dragged away by his accomplices until they gave up when they heard sirens approaching. Police arrived to find the man's body in the street outside the house.

The three occupants of the house, named locally as Peter Flanagan, 59, his son Neil, 27, and the younger man's unnamed girlfriend, were last night being questioned by police in connection with the suspected murder.

Mr Flanagan was said to be a "nice, quiet man" who works in a local garage.

Sylvia Sharp-Cadigan, 67, who lives next door, said: "I went to bed at 10 o'clock and about 12 heard all this commotion, all these voices.

"There were four police cars outside. I came down and asked the police, 'What's going on?' He said, 'There's been a break-in'. I said, 'Is anybody hurt?' and he said, 'I can't say any more'."

She described Mr Flanagan as a worker who left early in the mornings and said his son had a lot of visitors to the house.

Mrs Sharp-Cadigan added: "We are all upset because it is a quiet little street, we never have any bother."

The house, which is part of a cul-de-sac, is next to an area of scrubland close to a recycling centre in the Pendlebury area of Salford.

The Prime Minister sought to reassure families on Tuesday, as he scrapped plans to halve jail terms for offenders who plead guilty early.

He said the new Justice Bill would "put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted".

It follows a series of high-profile cases, including that of Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, in which householders have been imprisoned after attacking burglars on their property.

Mr Martin was jailed for life for the 1999 shotgun killing of Fred Burras after the 16-year-old had broken into his isolated farm in August 1999. But on appeal his conviction was downgraded to manslaughter, for which he served three years in prison.

Prosecution guidance says that "anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime so long as you only do what you honestly... believe is necessary."

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