Farmer in death case is released

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The Independent Online
A FARMER accused of murdering a 16-year-old boy suspected of trying to burgle his home was freed on bail yesterday.

Tony Martin, 54, of Emneth, Norfolk, was released from Norwich prison after Judge David Mellor granted him conditional bail following a 30-minute hearing behind closed doors at Norwich Crown Court.

Mr Martin had spent two weeks in custody after being charged with murdering Fred Barras, a market trader, and wounding another suspected burglar, Brendan Fearon, 29, at his isolated farmhouse on 20 August. A third man arrested on suspicion of burglary was later released on bail.

Mr Martin, a bachelor who lived alone on his 350-acre farm, was not in court for the hearing and was released from a side entrance at the jail to avoid waiting journalists. He had been held in the jail's hospital wing.

Mr Martin's mother, Hilary Martin, said: "It's wonderful news. It's what we were all hoping for. He wasn't born to be shut up and he wasn't coping well. I'm looking forward to seeing him."

Friends and neighbours have mounted a vigorous campaign for Mr Martin's release. Protesters outside King's Lynn magistrates' court for his first appearance carried placards saying "support your local farmer", and a sign was erected next to the main road near his home reading "Tony Martin - Good Bloke." Solicitors have set up a fund for his defence, and claim to have received several offers of financial support, including one pounds 10,000 donation.

Mr Martin has been ordered to appear before Norwich magistrates on 2 November.