Householders rarely taken to court for burglar attacks

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The Independent Online

Only eleven householders have been prosecuted for attacking intruders in the past 15 years, Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said last night.

Only eleven householders have been prosecuted for attacking intruders in the past 15 years, Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said last night.

Mr Macdonald said the low total - which included only seven domestic burglaries - proved existing laws give the public adequate protection to defend their property.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has come under fire from the Tories for ruling out a change in legislation to allow people to use extreme force against intruders. The opposition has argued that the law is biased against homeowners, a view overwhelmingly supported in opinion polls.

But Mr Macdonald said an informal trawl of Crown Prosecution Service files had shown prosecutions for attacks on burglars were extremely rare.

He said: "The law is on the side of householders. Those who attack intruders will only be prosecuted if they use very excessive force."

The most well-known of the 11 prosecutions was that of the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who was jailed for murder - later reduced to manslaughter - after he shot dead a fleeing teenage burglar. They also included a householder in Manchester who left a burglar with brain damage after hitting him several times with a shovel.

The CPS also listed several cases in which no prosecution was brought over that period. A robber died after being stabbed by a newsagent in Manchester, but the CPS did not bring him to court and prosecuted the surviving robber, who was jailed for six years.

Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP who has tabled a Bill to allow householders to use all but "grossly disproportionate" violence against intruders, said: "What about those who have stood trembling in indignation and horror, fearing what the law would do to them if they were to tackle the person who was violating their home?

"I challenge Mr Clarke to publish the names of these people - the silent majority."