Martin to fight shot burglar lawsuit 'tooth and nail'

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The Independent Online

Tony Martin, the farmer jailed for killing a burglar, has said he will fight "tooth and nail" any attempt by a second burglar injured in the shooting to sue him.

Brendon Fearon, 33, who has 30 previous convictions, was wounded in the leg during the break-in at Martin's home in Emneth Hungate in Norfolk in 1999. Fearon's accomplice, Fred Barras, 16, was shot dead in the raid. Martin, who was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for manslaughter, is due to be released next month.

Fearon was jailed for three years for conspiracy to burgle and is currently serving a further 18 months for drug-dealing. On Friday he won the right at Nottingham County Court to sue Martin for £15,000 for loss of earnings.

Malcolm Starr, a campaigner for Martin, 58, said yesterday: "He is not surprised about the verdict and he feels that he cannot understand why more MPs aren't being more outspoken about the situation. He will fight tooth and nail."

He added: "This is disgraceful and means yet more public money will be wasted on this claim.

"How can the law allow this to go on? It means that a burglar who was injured trespassing on another man's property and is sent to prison can then have the cheek to sue him for damages."

Martin's Conservative MP, Henry Bellingham, said: "I am absolutely appalled. I feel very strongly that no criminal should have any right after he has broken into a property - all legal rights should be left outside the property that was burgled. It is outrageous that a convicted burglar should get legal aid to pursue a civil case."

At Friday's hearing District Judge Brian Oliver said Fearon was entitled under the Human Rights Act to a full hearing and sent the case to the High Court in London. He added that the case raised issues that needed to be settled.

Shami Chakrabarti of the human rights group Liberty said it was right for Fearon to have the chance to go to court.

"Brendon Fearon is a convicted criminal and is, quite rightly, serving time in prison," she said. "That does not take away his right to seek compensation for the injuries he suffered."