Tony Evans, 66, who had been burgled eight times before the incident, became a hero to local people and the popular press after confronting the intruder last month. He picked up his shotgun and told the man to surrender after finding him at his home in Pluckley, Kent, one afternoon. Instead, the intruder charged at him.
After firing his gun, Mr Evans kept the man covered, and dialled 999. Police arrived to find the man screaming on the floor, and questioned Mr Evans at length, telling him he could be charged with attempted murder.
No one had been arrested in connection with any of the previous break-ins.
But Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General, told the Commons: 'Any shooting incident must be carefully investigated. It is not for people to take the law into their own hands . . . there was a prompt review of the evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service, acting in close consultation with the police, which showed that Mr Evans had acted only in self defence.'
For there to be a reasonable chance of conviction, the prosecution would need evidence that Mr Evans had intended to attack the intruder, and had used undue force. There were no witnesses to the incident.
A relieved Mr Evans said yesterday: 'You must do what you do. It's difficult even looking back now to know if there was intent. He leapt at me. I squeezed the trigger, but it was more or less that he ran into the bullets. He was coming at me so fast. I pointed the gun and told him to surrender but he charged at me instead. I was only firing into the carpet.'
He said that the gun was not normally kept ready and loaded. 'I had got rid of all the rabbits, so I had not used it for a year. Then two rabbits came back. That morning I'd taken it out. I had meant to put it away, but I had gone out in a hurry.'
Mr Evans said that he accepted the police could not condone what he had done. 'They had to act. It could lead to a vicious circle if everyone starts arming themselves to shoot at burglars. The burglars may start arming themselves and then the police and before we know it we may be living in a gun society.
'I realise there are some gung- ho people around but I don't consider myself one of those. Lots of people sympathised with me. Some said no jury would convict me of any charge. But it was still a terrible anguish for me waiting to hear what was going to happen to me. I really feared going to jail.'
He said he regretted the shooting, adding: 'Since then I've thought of another way to defend myself if that sort of situation were to happen again.'
Police are still investigating the alleged break-in.Reuse content