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Posted On:5/15/2003 12:31pm
Style: I wear pants
Martin burglar begins action for damages
May 14, 2003 11:19
THE serial burglar shot and injured by Tony Martin was today set to ask a court to allow him to sue the jailed farmer for damages. Brendon Fearon, 33, was wounded during a break-in at Martin's isolated home in Emneth Hungate, in 1999.
He claims that his injuries, including a leg wound, have affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts and he has suffered post-traumatic stress.
The thief, jailed for his part in the raid on Martin's home, has more than 30 criminal convictions, was given legal aid to launch a claim for damages as a result of being shot. It is believed that he hopes to sue Martin for £15,000 in loss of earnings, because of his inability to find work. Nottingham County Court confirmed that a hearing was taking place today at which lawyers for Fearon — currently in jail for heroin dealing — would ask for an earlier decision to strike out the claim to be overturned. Last month at the same court, a judge rejected Fearon's bid for compensation and said the burglar had failed to provide enough evidence.
His solicitors, Nottingham-based Bhatia Best, were expected to claim today that they have crucial evidence to prove the claims and those papers had earlier been unavailable due to administrative problems. Malcolm Starr, who has led the campaign for Martin's freedom, said: "Tony is understandably angry about the news of the hearing this morning and uncertain about what might happen. As a result of this new hearing, he has had to instruct new solicitors and pay out more money. "If, for some reason, a judge eventually agreed with Fearon's claim on a technicality, Tony would have to pay out more costs and potentially a sum of compensation.
"Even if Fearon was awarded 10p, it would still cost Tony a great deal if he was ordered to pay costs." Martin, 58, shot dead Fearon's accomplice Fred Barras, 16, at his home after the pair and a third man drove 60 miles from Newark, Notts, in the hope of stealing antiques. He was originally convicted of murder and jailed for life, but the conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal and he is serving a five-year sentence.
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Posted On:6/13/2003 1:10pm
Burglar given leave to sue Tony Martin
June 13, 2003 14:38
Bleak House burglar Brendan Fearon today won the right to sue jailed farmer Tony Martin for damages. A judge at Nottingham County Court overturned an earlier decision which threw out his claim. Career criminal Fearon, 33, hopes to sue Martin for £15,000 in loss earnings after he was shot during a bungled break-in at the farmer's home in Emneth Hungate, near Wisbech, four years ago. District Judge Brian Oliver sent the case to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice and the court was told a date was likely to be set when both men were released from prison terms. Martin, 58, is nearing the end of a five-year manslaughter sentence, for shooting dead petty thief Fred Barras.
Fearon, who has a string of convictions, was jailed for 18 months for heroin dealing in February. Fearon claims his injuries, which included a leg wound, had affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts and that he had suffered post traumatic stress.
"I have to take the view that there are important issues here that need to be determined and that it would be wrong, subject to other considerations, to deprive the claimant from airing his claim and having a full trial,'' said District Judge Oliver. He said that to deny Fearon the right to his claim could contravene the burglar's rights under Section 6 of the Human Rights Convention. And he added the case would be sent to the High Court because of the amount of public interest and because of the complex nature of matters to be decided. District Judge Oliver said that the full hearing must consider what rights a householder has to protect his property and also whether a burglar can be deemed to be outside of the law. Fearon, who has in excess of 30 convictions against his name, was wounded during a break in at Martin's home in Emneth Hungate, in Norfolk, in August 1999. Martin shot dead Fearon's accomplice, 16-year-old Fred Barras, of Newark, Nottinghamshire.
The court was told that Fearon's case was struck out after solicitors failed to provide paperwork outlining the action and to pay a £150 court fee by the deadline of March 28. District Judge Oliver said because of that mistake the claim was automatically struck out, but had not been fully dismissed. District Judge Oliver ordered Fearon's solicitors pay cost for today's hearing. He also rejected an application from Andrew Preswick, representing Martin, to appeal against the decision. Neither Martin or Fearon, who are both serving prisoners, were present at this morning's hearing. North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: "I am absolutely appalled at the decision in court today by the judge that is going to allow Brendon Fearon to pursue his case. "I feel very strongly that no criminal should have any right after he has broken into a property - all legal rights should be left outside the property that was burgled.
"It is outrageous that a convicted burglar should get legal aid to pursue a civil case. "I have written to the new Cabinet Minister Lord Falconer today because we need a change in the law." Martin's friend Malcolm Starr said: "This is disgraceful and means yet more public money will be wasted on this claim. "Tony expected this to happen, because of flaws in the law that must now be addressed. "How can the law allow this to go on. It means that a burglar who was injured trespassing on another man's property and is sent to prison can then have the cheek to sue him for damages. "Public opinion must be at boiling point, people will be gobsmacked that the law can be so wrong. "It is about time people called on Tony Blair and David Blunkett to look at this matter and address it, it is what they have been elected for. "We are all furious that more money will have to be spent now that the case has been sent to the High Court, because a district judge in a county court believed that this is simply too hot to handle."
Norman Brennan, a serving London police officer and director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said the decision made a nonsense of the justice system. "Brendan Fearon put himself in a position of danger through criminal actions, he is a man long known to be engaged in criminal activity," he added. "If he wants to get some money, Fearon should get off his backside and not attempt to cash in on the misery of normal people. "Householder Tony Martin when he came across the two men at his home, which we know was wrong, but I still believe that these criminals put themselves in a position of danger when they choose to intrude in people's homes. "To then allow a criminal to sue the person for damages turns the criminal justice system on its head. "We need immediate legislation to make sure that criminals cannot make claims for damages in the circumstances and I sincerely hope that Fearon is unsuccessful in his attempt to claim damages."
A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary is sympathetic to the concerns on the issue of civil liability exclusion for victims. "We have been saying for a while that we will be trying to find a way to afford greater protection for householders." Last month Home Secretary David Blunkett said criminals who injured themselves while burgling houses would be prevented from suing householders for compensation. Home Office lawyers were drafting an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which is now before Parliament, he said. However, it is not yet clear whether the restrictions would still apply if the householder were also convicted of an offence. The Home Secretary told a conference of GPs in Sheffield that he was "about to announce that we're going to protect people from getting sued by burglars". He later told the Commons that he would seek to introduce the amendment in the Lords to "prevent offenders from turning the law on its head''.
Posted On:6/14/2003 2:10am
Martin to fight compensation claim
Tony Martin shot dead a 16-year-old burglar
Killer farmer Tony Martin has said he will fight "tooth and nail" against any attempt to sue him by a burglar he shot and injured.
He spoke out after Brendon Fearon, 33, was told that under the Human Rights Act he has the right to have his compensation claim against Martin heard. Fearon, who has more than 30 criminal convictions, was shot by Martin during a burglary at the farmer's home in Emneth Huntgate, Norfolk, in August 1999. Martin shot dead Fearon's 16-year-old accomplice Fred Barras, leading to a conviction for manslaughter.
Malcolm Starr, a campaigner for Martin, said: "He is not surprised about the verdict and he feels that he cannot understand why more MPs aren't being more outspoken about the situation."
Brendon Fearon claims to have suffered post-traumatic stress
Mr Starr said the "disgraceful" decision would lead to a waste of public money. He added: "Public opinion must be at boiling point, people will be gobsmacked that the law can be so wrong." Martin's MP, Tory Henry Bellingham, said: "I am absolutely appalled. I feel very strongly that no criminal should have any right after he has broken into a property - all legal rights should be left outside the property that was burgled." He condemned the decision to provide a convicted burglar with legal aid to pursue a civil claim.
But Shami Chakrabarti of the human rights group Liberty,, said it was right for Fearon to have the chance to go to court. "Brendon Fearon is a convicted criminal and is, quite rightly, serving time in prison," she said. "That does not take away his right to seek compensation for the injuries he suffered." The judge said the full hearing must consider what rights a householder has to protect his property and also whether a burglar can be deemed to be outside of the law.
At an earlier hearing Fearon claimed that Martin left him with a leg wound and had affected his ability to enjoy sex and martial arts. He also claimed that he had suffered post traumatic stress.
A Home Office spokesman said: "We have been saying for a while that we will be trying to find a way to afford greater protection for householders. "We are in the process of finalising our plans."
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