Self defence assault, self defence murder or just self defence?

You pop home for a bite to eat and notice the patio window is smashed and there are burglars still ransacking the place. Not a good situation. But in essence this is what faced an apprentice builder, Omari Roberts, just over a year ago in Nottingham. Tragically it ended with one burglar being stabbed in an altercation, the wounds from which were sufficient to lead to his death. The question is was it self defence, assault or murder?

Omari Roberts

Omari Roberts

The other burglar, who also suffered injuries, told lies in his statement which resulted in the builder being charged with GBH and murder, seven months after the incident. Denying the charges the case took a year to go to trial but on the opening day the prosecution dropped the case because new evidence came to light. It seems that the police went to re-interview the accomplice/witness who then told them a completely different story as he was unable to remember the lies he’d told them in the first place.

On the face of it this case has similarities with that of the two Hussein brothers who were jailed for beating a burglar after a raid. The main difference is that the accused in this instance, Omari Roberts, did not chase the burglar down the road. Rather he was attacked in his mothers home and, as his lawyer said

He had no option but to defend himself. Everything happened in a split second. He’d just returned to his mum’s house for a little bit to eat and found himself in a terrible position

and

Omari was put in a position in which he was fighting for his life. He had no option but to defend himself – he was in a struggle for his life and this could happen to any one of us.

This case has again highlighted the issue of home owner’s right to defend their property and self defence in general. In this instance, in my opinion, the law of using ‘reasonable force’ has been adequate. While Roberts had to go through the hassle of being on restrictive bail and the ordeal of being charged with murder at least, eventually, the charges were dropped and he has been exonerated.

While the CPS do seem to have been overzealous in this instance, the real shame is that a 17 year old boy has lost his life while taking pert in a very stupid crime.That aside, the CPS took the word of the accomplice who was at best a dodgy witness and a well known criminal, it seems strange that they took his word against that of a young man who had enver been in trouble before. To charge him with murder and wounding with intent is a bit rich, seeing as it was after all nothing more than one word against another. I’m no legal expert but I can’t see that there was ever a case.

For me the Law worked, eventually, the problem is with the CPS which seems to have been erroneous in taking the case in the first place. If there needs to be any investigation it needs to involve this decision.

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6 thoughts on “Self defence assault, self defence murder or just self defence?

  1. Looks that the law just about worked. If the law was clearer than the PC CPS would have not been able to ruin this mans life for a year i.e if someone enters a house with a weapon then there has to be a presumption that the home owner acted reasonably whatever happens to the intruder which has to be disproved before any prosecution can be considered.

  2. Yes Dave, a sub-clause or whatever could work. The vagueness of the Law is what makes it sufficiently ‘fluid’ to apply in so many cases. Some unfairly and others correctly.

    Some one I know went on a conflict resolution course recently. She said the rule of thumb is if the bad guy is moving towards you, you can claim self-defence, if they are going away you can’t. Only a rule of thumb.

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  4. That is tough when someone breaks in and you have to defend your home/loved ones. You get punished for some thug that screws up your life due to what illegal act he was doing.
    Our court system is really screwed up in many ways. The innocent get screwed all the time and the bad guys get a slap on the wrist. He didn’t deserve to die but it went with the territory, with what he was doing. Play with fire and you better expect to get burned. Rob someone, expect to get some return fire. Our judicial system needs to get some balls and deal with criminals or we seem to have to do something ourselves.

  5. For sure, it’s unreasonable to go armed to burgle someones house and then fight them when caught in the act. The accomplice did you to jail for his part in the crime.

    So at least in this instance eventually justice was served. It’s important to ensure that if we were to catch a burglar we kept on the right side of the self-defence ‘reasonable force’ equation.

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