Man who killed masked intruder will not face prosecution

A householder who stabbed a suspected burglar to death will not face charges, it was announced yesterday.

Peter Flanagan, 59, knifed John Bennell, 27, in the chest after the masked intruder and three accomplices – one of whom was carrying a machete – smashed their way into his house in Salford, Greater Manchester, on 22 June.

He walked free yesterday after the North-west's Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal ruled that the garage worker had used "reasonable force" to defend himself.

"I am satisfied that Peter Flanagan acted in self defence after being woken by noises downstairs in his house," Mr Afzal said. "On investigating the disturbance he was confronted by intruders, one of whom was armed with a machete."

He said he made the decision after "looking carefully" at the evidence alongside Crown Prosecution Service policy on householders and the use of force against intruders.

The killing came days after David Cameron said families should "feel safe in their homes" as he promised homeowners would not be punished for using "reasonable force" to protect themselves.

"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," Mr Afzal added. "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."

He added that Bennell's family have been informed of the decision.

Mr Flanagan, his son, Neil, 27, and the younger man's unnamed girlfriend were woken just before midnight on 22 June. When he confronted the men, a scuffle broke out between him and Bennell and he stabbed the man in the chest.

Shortly afterwards, the gang, consisting of Martin Jamieson, 27, Wesley Gibbons, 23, and Christopher Troy, 23, were seen trying to drag Bennell away. They abandoned his body in the street when they heard sirens approaching.

All three occupants of the house were arrested at the scene.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan of Greater Manchester Police said: "When presented with the circumstances of that evening we made the right decision to make the arrests. We had a duty of care to 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."

An inquest into Bennell's death will be held in November. Mr Jamieson and Mr Gibbons are both charged with aggravated burglary while Mr Troy is charged with aggravated burglary and possession of a bladed article.

Days earlier, Mr Cameron had said that the new justice bill would "put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'