Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote in wonderfuldreams,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor
wonderfuldreams

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Greetings

Hi there, saw your post plugging this community. I was thinking of doing something similar, since I seem to have accidentally attracted notice from a supportgod for my activity in comms. This actually mainly consisted of answering lots of 'why can't I search for communities by interest?' questions with, 'sorry, known issue'. However.

So I'm more than happy to help you play around with the system, cos hey, it wouldn't be a bad support speciality to have, all told. And arguing is always good.

Don't know if this is the kind of thing you had in mind, but: what's the deal with this Tony Martin chap? Seems like the world ok, the media, is divided into people who think he's some kind of hero, and people who think he's an evil violent man. Nobody seems to feel as I do (ok, except perhaps the original court that transmuted his crime to manslaughter), that he did something wrong in circumstances that were at least somewhat mitigating.
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Thanks - that's precisely the kind of thing I had in mind!

My take on Mr Martin is rather different, because I've actually read the Court of Appeal's judgement in the case, and know a bit about the law.

If I'm remembering the right case, he shot randomly through his shed door, *without looking at what he was doing* and it was those shots that killed that sixteen year old. Of course he has a right to self defence, but that right only operates when you're in fear of immediate harm - and he couldn't have been in fear of immediate harm, such as to justify shooting through a door, without even looking. His actions weren't reasonable, and were found not to be reasonable by a jury - a jury, one would imagine to be sympathetic towards him (upstanding citizen, lots of buglaries etc).

Yet the media seem to insist upon playing it as if he's the wronged man here - he's not. I don't know enough about the case (CA judgements don't give you more than an outline of the facts), but he's not. I agree with you in that he made a mistake - it was self defence gone too far, rather than anything more malicious, and that he's probably been punished enough for it. I'm not sure whether murder/manslaughter is the more appropriate charge. I haven't looked at the distinction between the two since my first year at uni - but the main problem is that Parliament requires murderers be given automatic life sentences. This is problematic, because it results in people who have killed, but who we have some sympathy for - like victims of domestic violence, who often kill in a planned way (premediation has *nothing* to do with the definition of murder, but it's an aggravating factor when it comes to setting a tarrif), who try to fit themselves within either provocation/diminished responsibility (pleading either of those two things successfully results in a manslaughter verdict) which were never designed to be used in this way. So there would be far fewer problems if judges were entitled to impose any sentence of their choice upon murders - as they are for manslaughters - you can theoretically be convicted of manslaughter and given an absolute discharge (eg. you're guilty, but we're not going to punish you at all).

Ooh, that was a rather long comment:-)

If you'd like me to give you maintainer status, please ask.
Thanks, that was very interesting; what I know about legal matters comes from having two lawyers for parents, so it's a bit handwavy, so it's very good to have a more informed view. Mm, very good points though. Will answer properly later cos I'm in the middle of an expt right now.

Sure, maintainer status would be cool, that would give me a great opportunity to learn communities. And having more than one maintainer is the kind of thing that's likely to come up in support-y problems. I'll be sure to warn you before I do anything drastic ;-)
Maintainer status done! Unfortunately, I had to go to the FAQ to get the link to the manage community page - why can't there be a link somewhere useful?

hsenag told me last night that what I think happened eg. the shooting through the door thing might not have been the case. He'd heard that Mr Martin chased the men through his house before shooting them. I'm not going to claim to be correct on that point 'cos I'm often wrong, and it's been a while since I've read the case. But the rest of what I said remains true - his actions were, in the circumstances, unreasonable - so not justifiable as self defence.
I do believe that the appeal case tried to change the claim made in the original case about where he shot from anyway - I believe it was also worded as a "possibility" (it was said to be "possible" that Martin had shot from location X), which makes me click my tongue and go "Hmmmm..." about the whole matter.

I seem to remember that the surviving burglar in the original court case tesified that they were chased by a gun-wielding Martin, and that Fred Barras was shouting for his mother before being shot in the back and left to bleed to death in the orchard.
To me, that is neither self-defence nor reasonable defence of property.

I saw an interesting item on BBC Look East, which was all about how people in rural Anglia perceive a high risk of crime, but that even a brief look at the stats indicates this risk is highly exaggerated in people's minds - apparently, you are likely to be burgled only once every 26 years in this part of the world. So people obviously have been stirred up by the media presentation, which I think is highly irresponsible of the media. I don't know why they try to present Martin as a hero or a wronged innocent, either.

I'll just add here that the one time I was burgled, it wasn't a very pleasant experience at all, but it didn't make me feel like shooting the bugger that did it. You get yourself a contents insurance policy ad you lock your door. It's really not worth murdering somebody for.
it was said to be "possible" that Martin had shot from location X
I must admit that if I were a juror I would have a hard time coming to a verdict if the facts of the case were that vague.

neither self-defence nor reasonable defence of property
I agree. I also agree with the current state of the law which is that it is never reasonable to kill in defence of property, only in defence of persons. There has been a bit of a clamour for this to be altered recently, but I think that would be an exceedingly bad thing.

this risk is highly exaggerated in people's minds
False perception of crime is a huge problem, definitely. I don't know how this can be combatted.

My neighbour here, a very sweet guy who is also educationally subnormal, is absolutely paranoid about being burgled, and has a ridiculous level of security in his flat, the security system being worth far more than any of the rest of his property. I worry about him on two counts: firstly, that he is spending more than he can afford on one of those subscription alarm systems; ok, he doesn't really have a grasp of the meaning of money, but this is still worrying. But more importantly, with all his bolts and chains and whatever, it takes him an awful long time to get out of the house. I fear he is at much greater risk from being trapped by a fire than from burglary.

It's really not worth murdering somebody for.
No, unquestionably human life is worth more than property. I wish this were more obvious to more people!

The other thing that worries me about the reporting of this case is the way the right wing newspapers that are glorifying Martin's actions are also making a lot of very nasty comments about "gypsies". It's one thing to despise the two victims for being burglars (though I really can't see that they deserved to be shot for it), but to imply that their lives are worth less because they are Gypsies is very disturbing. I don't know whether this is a racial comment or a reference to their non-mainstream lifestyle; I suspect the former, but either way it's not pleasant.


know a bit about the law
Unlike most of the media hacks who have been babbling about the case! Knowing what you're talking about is always an advantage.

he couldn't have been in fear of immediate harm, such as to justify shooting through a door, without even looking. His actions weren't reasonable
No, not reasonable. Somewhat understandable, maybe, but not reasonable. Certainly not laudable.

the media seem to insist upon playing it as if he's the wronged man here - he's not
Agreed entirely. It's deplorable that people like him are in such fear of burglars that they are led to kill someone, (whether that is the fault of the media impression of a high crime rate, or an actual high crime rate, or lack of police in rural areas, or a bad criminal justice system, or anything else people are claiming). This doesn't make it a good thing that he killed someone.

he made a mistake - it was self defence gone too far, rather than anything more malicious
Yes; short of actually malicious does not equate to admirable, though.

he's probably been punished enough for it
I am hugely in favour of leaving people alone once they have served their sentence. One of the points of the legal system is to mete out appropriate punishment; the idea that someone should be punished beyond that becaues of one's own personal emotional response to their crime is very close to vigilante justice.

the main problem is that Parliament requires murderers be given automatic life sentences
I knew that that was the case, but I wasn't aware of the problems it could cause with sentencing until you pointed it out.

premediation has *nothing* to do with the definition of murder
You know, I would have assumed it did, so this is very helpful to know!

try to fit themselves within either provocation/diminished responsibility
The latter being Martin's plea, as opposed to legitimate self-defence, which his actions clearly weren't.

So there would be far fewer problems if judges were entitled to impose any sentence of their choice upon murders
Also because it sometimes happens that a guilty person is acquitted because mitigating circumstances mean that the jury is uncomfortable with imposing a life sentence, but they can't get a change to manslaughter because of whatever legal technicalities.

In my 'perfect world' I'm not sure there would be a mimimun sentence for anything; I'd be prepared to trust the professional skill of judges to interpret each case on its own merits.


There's some links to the BBC coverage
here
and here

The latter includes the following report from the court case (which is what I remember about the lawyers saying firing position x was "possible" - appears the word used was "could"):

Ballistic expert, Dr Graham Renshaw, told the court that cartridge discharge particles found on the staircase at Martin's house in Ementh, near Norfolk, backed up his claim that he was coming down the stairs when he shot Barras.

Dr Renshaw said the space through which Martin would have had to have shot at the bottom of the steps was a 10-inch gap.

If Martin had been on the fifth step however, the gap would only be seven-and-a-half inches wide, the court was told.

Presiding judge Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, suggested that the shot would have had to be "extraordinarily accurate".

Dr Renshaw said: "Accurate or fortuitous."

Fearon, who was shot in the groin by Martin, said all three shots were fired in the breakfast room and not from the stairs.

But Martin has always maintained that he heard a noise while in bed, came down the stairs and opened fire in self defence.

Dr Renshaw told the appeal hearing: "It was always my clearly stated opinion that the fatal shot could have been fired from the stairs."

Martin's new legal team believe that the farmer's conviction was thoroughly unsafe.

They have argued that his lawyers at the original trial made a mistake because they allowed the jury to accept that Martin was on the ground floor throughout the incident.

They adopted a tactical position to avoid any inference that after firing the first shot, Martin had followed the intruders before firing again.


For comparison, at the original trial the following was reported:

Martin, who admits not having a firearms licence, later told police he had fired his gun at a distance, without aiming.

But Miss Horwood-Smart said ballistic reports revealed injuries to both Fearon's legs and Barras' right leg could only have been inflicted if Martin was in the same room as the intruders.


Fred Barras appears to be a gypsy in the racial sense; there were reports at the time of the original trial that Martin had declared he would like to round up all gypsies into a field and shoot them.
Hey, wow, you dig Beth Orton too! Love that song, and in fact that whole album.
So, policy on off-topic posts, Karen?
*giggles mischieviously*

The great thing about having a community dedicated to righting the world, is that nothing is *ever* off topic - 'cos for some people, great music (and getting rid of the bad stuff) is what they'd do to make the world a better place;-)

(Of course, usual disclaimer, if anyone's actually upset by anything, then let me/livredor know, and we'll sort it out).
The thing is that the only thing I know about Beth Orton is that that song was on a tape my boyfriend, M, made for me of music that he likes, but that I didn't know. (He made such a good first date impression: not only did introduce me to new music, but also lent me a copy of The Left Hand of Darkness which I'd wanted to read for ages, and gave me white chocolate mints...) I absolutely adore She cries your name, but haven't come across any other stuff of Beth Orton's apart from that.