Tony Martin lawyers to fight on despite parole defeat

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The Independent Online

Lawyers for Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for killing a teenage burglar, said yesterday they would continue to fight for his freedom after a judge upheld a Parole Board decision to keep him in prison.

Lawyers for Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for killing a teenage burglar, said yesterday they would continue to fight for his freedom after a judge upheld a Parole Board decision to keep him in prison.

Mr Justice Maurice Kay rejected an application for a court order that would have forced the board to reconsider its decision not to grant Martin's early release. In January, the Parole Board had turned down Martin's plea to be set free and refused did not change its decision even though it had received new psychiatric reports.

Bitu Bhalla, appearing for Martin, argued during a two-day High Court hearing that there was no serious risk of the farmer reoffending. Probation officers said there was an "unacceptable risk" that Martin might react with excessive force again if released.

Pushpinder Saini, for the board, argued that burglars were entitled not to be treated as "fair game". Mr Justice Kay said the chances of Martin reoffending were "not as remote as Mr Bhalla suggests".

The judge strongly criticised the board for its failure to obtain copies of the missing medical reports before coming to its initial decision in January. "I don't consider what took place a model of procedural purity but I am satisfied it was not procedurally unfair," he said.

Martin is due to leave prison on July after serving two-thirds of his five-year sentence for shooting Fred Barras, 16, who broke into his house in 1999. A spokesman for his legal team said he would petition the Home Secretary to ask for a special hearing into his case.