£60,000 contract taken out on farmer's life, court told

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The Independent Online

The farmer Tony Martin, now has a £60,000 contract on his head after he shot two people at his property last year, his barrister said yesterday.

Anthony Scrivener QC told the jury at Norwich Crown Court that the 55-year-old, who shot a teenage burglar, had received death threats since the night of 20 August, when he defended his home with such terrible consequences. He now lives at a secret address, under police protection, and may never be able to return.

The jury had earlier heard that Mr Martin, who lived alone with his three Rottweilers, had fired his pump-action shotgun at 16-year-old Fred Barras and friend, Brendon Fearon, 30, when they broke into his house near Emneth in Norfolk. Barras died only feet from the house and Fearon was left seriously injured.

Mr Martin denies murdering Barras, attempting to murder Mr Fearon, as well as wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Detective Sergeant Peter Newton, under cross examination from Mr Scrivener, agreed that police had unconfirmed intelligence of a £60,000 offer to have the farmer killed.

The court heard that death threats had also been made to the other side, namely Darren Bark, now 34, who drove the two men to the house that night. He was later jailed, along with Fearon, after admitting conspiracy to burgle.

Mr Scrivener appealed to the jury to put themselves in the defendant's shoes. "This case is about self-defence, the right all citizens have," he said.

On the stand, the farmer said that he had been rigid with fear when woken by noises. Seeing a light downstairs, he had retreated to his bedroom to get the gun. He'd moved partly down the stairs where a light was shone in his face and he fired repeatedly without warning. "Lots of things were going through my mind. I was blind, terrified, vulnerable." Insisting that he was unaware he had hit both men, he said that he drove around the property looking for them.

Under cross-examination, he denied booby-trapping his home by removing steps from the stairs and setting up ladders as look-out posts. Photographs of the inside of the farmhouse taken by police last August were released yesterday.

Mr Martin denied ever saying that he would machine-gun gypsies or criminals.However, when asked by prosecutor, Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC: "You put these views into action in the way you defended your property?" He replied: "It would seem like that." She accused him of being obsessed with taking the law into his own hands.

The trial continues.