Burglar's father defends right to protect property

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The Independent Online

The father of a suspected burglar who was stabbed to death after an attempted break-in has said he hoped he would have the "guts" to defend his property.

John Bennell, 27, from Hyde, Greater Manchester, died from a stab wound to the chest after four masked men tried to break in the back door of a terraced house in Salford at midnight on Wednesday.

Today, Mr Bennell's father Gary, 52, stood up for the right of householders to protect their property.

He told The Sun: "I'd hope I'd have the guts to protect my property.

"I know things can get out of hand, but you're entitled to protect your property."

He described how his son had become estranged from him and his wife Diane, 56. But, he said, his wife was "broken-hearted" by what had happened.

Householder Peter Flanagan, 59, was arrested on suspicion of murder following Mr Bennell's death.

Yesterday, he was bailed to July 25 pending further inquiries.

His son Neil, 27, and a 21-year-old woman were also arrested but have since been released.

Meanwhile, police have arrested another man in connection with the incident on suspicion of burglary.

The 30-year-old, from the Tameside area, was arrested yesterday and is in police custody, Greater Manchester Police said.

Officers were earlier granted an extension of 36 hours to question Mr Flanagan, before he was bailed.

Police sources have confirmed that Mr Bennell had been arrested in Tamworth, Staffordshire, earlier this month on suspicion of burglary.

He was held in custody overnight and then released by Staffordshire Police pending further inquiries.

It is believed he was carried from the house in Ethel Avenue, Salford, to a nearby street after being stabbed in the break-in.

Police were first alerted by a frantic 999 call from a woman to reports of a burglary at the house, then a second call to reports of an injured man being carried along the street nearby.

Mr Bennell was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. A post-mortem examination confirmed he died as a result of a knife wound to the chest.

Police have made an appeal to the public to try to trace his accomplices.

The incident comes after Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to bring in stronger measures to protect homeowners defending their property.

"We will put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted," he said.