Pensioner's defence of his property put him in the dock

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Ted Newberry, a retired hospital porter, so was fed up with vandals destroying his allotment at Ilkeston in Derbyshire that the pensioner decided to sleep in his allotment shed to catch the culprits red-handed.

But instead of finding vandals during his vigil in 1988, he realised that the noise he could hear outside was that of would-be burglars trying to break into the shed. So Mr Newberry took up a 12-bore shotgun and fired what he said was intended to be a warning shot through a hole in the shed door, because he feared for his life.

The shot hit one of the intruders, Mark Revill, then 22, who was left with 50 shotgun pellets embedded in his body.

Seven years ago, a jury cleared Mr Newberry of deliberately injuring Mr Revill, because of the pensioner's claim he acted purely in self-defence.

Mr Revill, also from Ilkeston, was jailed for six months for the attempted break-in and other offences. Last year, the father of four pursued a civil suit for damages, claiming that the close-range shot had left him suffering from regular blackouts and little use in his right arm and two of his fingers.

At Nottingham High Court the judge, Mr Justice Rougier, ruled that Mr Newberry, 83, had been negligent when he fired through the shed door. He said it would have been more sensible to turn on the light or shout. In a decision which provoked widespread protests at the time, he awarded Mr Revill pounds 12,100 for his injuries, which was reduced to pounds 4,033 because he ruled that the burglar himself was two-thirds to blame for the incident.

As hundreds of people sent in cash donations to contribute to Mr Newberry's repayments, Mr Justice Rougier defended his ruling and said that although he was receiving hate mail about his decision he threw it all unopened into the bin.