Householders have the right to get rid of burglars in their homes, says senior judge


Frightened and furious householders have the right to get rid of burglars in their homes, the most senior judge in England and Wales said today.

"If your home is burgled and you're in there, you have the right to get rid of the burglar," the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said.

He was speaking after judge Michael Pert QC said yesterday that being shot by homeowners was simply a chance that burglars took.

Jailing burglars Joshua O'Gorman and Daniel Mansell for four years each, the judge told Leicester Crown Court: "I make it plain that, in my judgment, being shot is not mitigation.

"If you burgle a house in the country where the householder owns a legally held shotgun, that is the chance you take.

"You cannot come to court and ask for a lighter sentence because of it."

Asked about the comments at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London today, Lord Judge said: "I take a very serious view about an offence of burglary.

"Burglary of a home, whether it's a grand mansion or a very modest one up one down, is always an offence against property, but more importantly it is an offence against the person.

"The householder is entitled to use reasonable force to get rid of the burglar."

The Lord Chief Justice admitted that "occasionally it looks as if the householder is the criminal", but said: "Well, the householder is not in a position to exercise calm, cool, judgment.

"You're not calmly detached, you're probably very cross and you're probably very frightened, a mixture of both.

"And your judgment of precisely what you should or should not do in the circumstances cannot - as another predecessor of mine said, Lord Lane - you can't measure it in a jeweller's scale.

"You have to face the reality of how people are and how people react to these situations, and justifiably react."

Lord Judge went on: "In measuring whether the force is reasonable or not, you're not doing a paper exercise six months later.

"You've got to put yourself in the position of the man or woman who has reacted to the presence of a burglar and has reacted with fury, with anxiety, with fear and with all the various different emotions which have been generated and has no time for calm reflection."

Lord Judge said it was "not a matter of being sentimental".

"It's a matter of how people feel," he said.

"When you're at home you want to feel safe, and in my view you're entitled to feel safe and secure.

"This is your haven, this is your refuge, this is where you have the right to be safe.

"The burglar takes your property, but even if you're not at home when he takes very little property there is a sense of violation and it destroys peace of mind - and if your peace of mind in your home is destroyed you have lost something immensely precious.

"Now that's why burglary's always serious."

He added: "A predecessor of mine 400 years ago who said, 'Your home is your castle'. That's what he is reflecting on.

"This is the place where you pull up the drawbridge and the moat makes you safe.

"Your home is your safe place, so burglary is always serious."

O'Gorman and Mansell, who have a string of convictions between them, were blasted with a legally-owned shotgun by Andy Ferrie as they attempted to ransack his isolated farm cottage in the early hours of September 2.

O'Gorman, who was shot in the face, and Mansell, who was hit in his right hand, had pleaded guilty to the break-in in Welby, near Melton Mowbray, at an earlier hearing.