Farmer found guilty of murdering burglar

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The Independent Online

A farmer who opened fire on a gang of burglars, killing one of them, was today convicted of murder.

Bachelor Tony Martin, 55, was found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Fred Barras at his isolated Norfolk farmhouse by a majority verdict of 10 to two.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court also found Martin, 55, guilty of wounding with intent, also by a majority of 10 to two.

There was a huge cry of "yes" as the verdicts were read out.

Earlier the jury unanimously cleared Martin of attempting to murder another burglar Brendan Fearon and possessing a firearm with intent at his Bleak House home, Emneth Hungate, near Emneth, Norfolk.

The farmer opened fire after confronting Barras, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, and 30-year-old Fearon, also of Newark, late at night at his isolated home on August 20.

He was arrested at Marmion Hotel, Wisbech, the home of his friend Helen Lilley, the following morning.

The jury of six men and six women took nine hours and thirty six minutes to return the guilty verdicts.

The farmer had earlier admitted possessing a shotgun without a certificate.

Martin was later jailed for life for the murder of Barras, with 10 years to run concurrently for the wounding offence and a further 12 months for possession of an illegal firearm, to which he had earlier pleaded guilty.

The farmer, dressed in smart blazer and floral tie, remained impassive as the verdicts and sentences were given.

However, there were screams of joy and a number of Barras's family members broke down in tears when the jury foreman announced the verdicts.

Police officers quickly moved in to quieten the court.

Jailing Martin, Mr Justice Owen told him there was only one sentence he pass.

He added: "This case should serve as a dire warning to all burglars who break in to people's houses.

"The law says we can use reasonable force because burglary is a crime and householders have the right to defend themselves.

"People have the right to use that reasonable force and it can have tragic results."

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