Burglar's family set to sue Martin

Relatives of Fred Barras, the teenage burglar murdered by Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer, are to seek criminal injuries compensation for the loss of his income.

Relatives of Fred Barras, the teenage burglar murdered by Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer, are to seek criminal injuries compensation for the loss of his income.

Barras, a convicted thief, was 16 when he was shot dead by Martin after he and two other men broke into the farmer's remote home. Martin was convicted in April of the teenager's murder and is serving a life sentence.

Barras's grandmother, Mary Dolan, 68, said yesterday: "It's not fair that the farmer has got all the money and he is the one that took Fred away.

"Ellen Barras [his mother] has only got what she gets from her benefit and if Fred was still here he would be in a job now and bringing more money into the house," she said. "He would not have been a thief for ever."

Barras had 29 previous convictions and had been sentenced to two months in a young offenders' institution for assaulting a policeman, theft and being drunk and disorderly. On the night he was killed, the teenager had just been released on bail after being accused of stealing garden furniture.

Mrs Barras, 45, and Mrs Dolan live on state benefits and could qualify for legal aid to fund their application for compensation.

Martin, 55, has been told he will have to sell his home, Bleak Farm, to pay for his upcoming appeal against his conviction. He does not qualify for legal aid because he owns his house and hundreds of acres of land attached to it.

Nick Makin, Martin's solicitor, said: "It is appalling that the family of someone who has a criminal record for burglary and assault should attempt to claim any damages of criminal injury when he was shot while burgling the dwelling of an innocent person.

"It is also appalling that they may get legal aid while his victim is in prison and patently unable to work and equally cannot get legal aid," he said. "There is something wrong and perverse with our legal system that it permits this."

Malcolm Starr, a close friend of Martin, said: "Mr Martin regrets the death of Fred Barras and the suffering it has caused his immediate family. But this is rubbing salt into the wound on the basis that if he had not been in somebody's home carrying out a criminal act he would not be dead now."

The Barras family expects to find out in the next few weeks if its application has been successful.

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