Charges 'to be dropped' over burglar's stab death

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The Independent Online

An apprentice builder accused of stabbing to death a teenage burglar he caught ransacking his mother's home will not go on trial because prosecutors plan to drop the charges, a solicitor said today.

Omari Roberts, 23, was due to stand trial for the murder of 17-year-old Tyler Juett on April 19.

The teenager was allegedly stabbed by Roberts after he caught him ransacking his mother's home in the Basford area of Nottingham in March last year.

It came out in court during an earlier hearing that the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer had been involved in the decision to prosecute Roberts.

Today, his solicitor Jonathan Epelle said he understood the Crown Prosecution Service would announce it planned to drop the charges at a hearing next Tuesday.

He said: "We have been told by a CPS source that the case has been listed so they can offer no evidence.

"There's a mixture of feelings because obviously somebody has died so it is not something to celebrate but we are delighted for Omari that he does not have to go through a trial.

"We are also angry because it was seven months before he was charged and then seven months after that we hear that they will drop it. Omari's life has been turned upside down for a year.

"Our QC is going to have a few choice phrases to say about this."

Mr Epelle gave a full account today on what happened on March 13 last year.

He said: "Omari came home to find two people in the house. The windows were smashed and the back door was smashed open. Juett was upstairs and another 14-year-old boy, who is no angel, was downstairs.

"He came rushing towards Omari with a kitchen knife, there was a struggle and the boy managed to abscond out of the house after he was stabbed in the leg.

"Omari made to go after him but came straight back to the house as there was still somebody in the house. That boy, that was Tyler Juett, came running down the stairs and rushed towards Omari. There was a struggle and in the struggle he got a knife through the shoulder, which severed an artery.

"There was a lot of confusion and there is confusion even now but Omari is not hiding anything. He gave a full account to police.

"This is a young man with no history of violence whatsoever, coming back to his mother's house for lunch and finding two people who rushed at him.

"One of them has ended up dead but as junior counsel Rag Chand put it, 'He was damned if he did, and dead if he didn't'.

"If he didn't do what he did, we could well be dealing with a murder case against Tyler Juett."

Roberts' mother Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson has run a campaign since her son's arrest for the law to be changed to offer home-owners more protection if they use force to defend their property.

The 47-year-old, a manager with Nottingham City Council, said: "Justice has been served but there are no winners. I don't know what changed it but I do believe that if I was a quieter person things may have been different.

"If there wasn't a General Election, things may have been different."

She added: "Although this was a very personal situation, this inspired me to hear about the situations of others and current legislation.

"This was not a public place, this was my home and the CPS dealt with the situation as if it was a public environment. This was in the privacy of my own home, it was a violation of my own family."

A CPS spokesman said: "We are refusing to comment until after the hearing on Tuesday. The DPP was involved in this decision as he is with all complex and sensitive cases."