Company director cleared after stabbing intruder to death


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The Independent Online

A company director will not face criminal charges after acting "honestly and instinctively" in stabbing to death a suspected robber at his home.

Vincent Cooke, 39, described how he was traumatised after "fighting for his life" during the incident in Bramhall, Stockport last month.

Mr Cooke was marched upstairs at knifepoint during the early evening break-in. But later he was arrested on suspicion of murdering Raymond Jacob, 39, who was found dead at the detached property.

Speaking for the first time since his arrest, the courier company manager thanked the public for its support, which included a Facebook campaign backed by 6,000 people calling for his release.

In a statement he said: "It has been a living nightmare for me and I'm still suffering flashbacks of the incident. I would like in due course to be able to thank everyone personally.

However, as there is a person awaiting a court hearing concerning this matter I have been advised not to make any further comments at this time. I hope to now be able to get on with my life but will never forget the day that I had to fight for my life." Mr Cooke was alone in the house at the time of the break-in but his 12-year-old son and wife returned during the struggle. He is the third person in Greater Manchester in recent months to be told by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that they acted with reasonable force after a fatal incident at their home or business.

In July, it was announced no action would be taken against Peter Flanagan, 59, who stabbed to death suspected burglar John Leonard Bennell, 27. Prosecutors ruled that he used "reasonable force" during the robbery at his home in Salford involving four masked men. Last month, the case against shopkeeper Cecil Coley, 72, was also dropped. The pensioner was arrested after he was confronted by four armed men at his florists in Old Trafford in July when Gary Mullings, 30, suffered fatal wounds.

The incidents led the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to speak out in favour of the rights of homeowners to defend themselves.

Announcing his decision on Mr Cooke, Nafir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West area, said: "It is clear to me that Mr Cooke did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary on that day to protect himself, his home and his family from intruders."

Chief Superintendent Rebekah Sutcliffe, of Greater Manchester Police, said it had been necessary to arrest Mr Cooke.

She said: "It was crucial that we conducted a thorough and open-minded investigation into the events. I am satisfied that we provided the full facts of the case to the CPS."

A 33-year-old man from Heald Green, Stockport, is due in court in December charged with aggravated burglary in connection with the incident at the Cookes' house.