Man who killed burglar walks free

A man who stabbed a burglar to death has been released without charge after a prosecutor ruled he acted in self-defence amid "frightening circumstances".

Peter Flanagan, 59, was arrested on suspicion of murder after he confronted John Bennell, 27, who broke into his home in Salford, Greater Manchester, along with a group of other masked men - one of whom was wielding a machete.

The engineer had been due to answer bail next Monday but today the North West's Chief Crown Prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, ruled that Mr Flanagan used reasonable force when he was disturbed by the intruders shortly before midnight on June 22.

He said: "In reaching this decision I have looked carefully at the evidence that the police have presented in this case and have taken into consideration the Crown Prosecution Service policy on householders and the use of force against intruders. In a case such as this I have to ask myself whether the use of force was necessary and whether it was reasonable in the circumstances.

"People are entitled to use reasonable force in self-defence to defend themselves, their family and their property. All the evidence indicates that in the frightening circumstances that he faced, Mr Flanagan did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary to protect himself and his home from intruders."

Mr Flanagan, described as a hard-working man by neighbours, was arrested on suspicion of murder and later bailed pending further inquiries.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "When presented with the circumstances of that evening, we made the right and proper decision to make the arrests.

"We had a duty of care to John Bennell's family, the occupants of the house and to the coroner to fully investigate this death to determine whether or not it was a criminal act or one of self-defence.

"I am satisfied that we provided the full facts of the case to the CPS and I respect their decision."

Mr Flanagan was unavailable for comment today.

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

Mr Bennell had suffered a stab wound to the chest and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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

The incident came shortly 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.