Teenage burglar had long record, murder trial told

The teenager shot dead by the farmer Tony Martin had a long history of criminal behaviour, including assaults on police, a court was told yesterday. Fred Barras was 16, but he had already made 28 court appearances.

A damning picture of the three men said to have set off to burgle Mr Martin's house was painted yesterday by Anthony Scrivener QC, defending Mr Martin against charges of murder and attempted murder at Norwich Crown Court.

Barras, Brendon Fearon, 30, and Darren Bark, 33, hadaccumulated 115 court appearances between them for offences including violence, theft and burglary. The teenager had convictions for common assault, burglary, theft, handling stolen goods and dangerous driving.

On 20 August last year, the trio set off from Newark, in Nottinghamshire, to Mr Martin'sdilapidated farmhouse near Emneth, Norfolk. Bark dropped off the other two, who broke into the isolated home.

Mr Martin, wakened by the noise, had gone down the darkened stairs and fired a shotgun, killing Barras and injuring Fearon, the court was told.

The 55-year-old farmer denies murdering Barras, the attempted murder of Fearon and wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He also denies having a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Yesterday Fearon took the stand to give his version, admitting he felt blame because he "took the little lad there to get killed". He had been brought from prison, where he is serving a sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracyto burgle Mr Martin's house with Bark.

But he insisted they had not set off to target an "old man's" house as suggested by the defence. Instead they plannedto check an outbuilding for possible burglary, having heard that "nobody had lived there for 100 years".

They had, he said, been chased by a snarling dog. In the dark Barras had clung to his friend in fear. "He was crying and clinging on to my shoulder. I don't think he liked dogs," said Fearon.

Confused by the dark, they had ended up at the main house, he claimed, and, in their fear, accidentally broke a window and climbed in to escape the angry animal. Once inside they had stumbled in the dark through Mr Martin's booby-trapped house, falling over cans, bottles and assorted rubble.

Fearon said he heard a sudden bang and in the muzzleflash from the shotgun saw a man standing on the stairs. Barras cried: "He has got me," and Fearon was shot twice.

"My legs went and I fell down. I came back up. Fred was still at my shoulder shouting and crying," said Fearon. He said he remembered eight or nine loud bangs but had since been told some of them may have been the shots repeating in his head. He said he was certain he definitely heard three very loud blasts. Fearon said he climbed out of the window and staggered through a field, believing Barras was behind him. He managed to get help at a nearby bungalow.

Police say he never mentioned his friend, and Barras's body - which lay concealed in undergrowth near the house - was not found until 14 hours later. But Fearon insisted he had spoken of his companion. "I told him [an ambulance crew member] I had been shot and another lad had been shot," he said.

Mr Scrivener described Fearon's account as rubbish, and suggested the thief had deliberately targeted the house and even gone to check it out weeks earlier. Some of Mr Martin's silverware had been found in two holdalls, which Fearon had taken to the house and left behind, though he denied stealing. "Do you have any explanation for how this silverware got into your holdall?" said Mr Scrivener. Fearon replied: "The farmer put them in to explain his actions."

The QC challenged the thief on various inconsistencies in his story from police interviews and in evidence, saying: "Why did you tell the police an untruth?" Fearon replied: "I was just coming out of sedation [in hospital]. I just wanted to put all the blame on me. I thought, 'You took the little lad there to get killed'."

John Slaughter, a forensic scientist, said tests on the dead boy revealed alcohol, cannabis and amphetamine in his system, though not enough to have had an effect on the night. The alcohol was at the drink-driving limit, the cannabis traces could have been days old, and he had only found residual amounts of amphetamine, which appeared to have been in the system for some while.

Mr Martin has pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm without a licence. The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks