Attacking in Self Defence

I think I agree here:

Nick Herbert, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said: "This is a typical Labour con – it will give no greater protection to householders confronted by burglars because it’s nothing more than a re-statement of the existing case law.”

Not that I\’m any sort of expert in the law, but isn\’t this simply a codification into statute law of what was already the case in common law?

26 thoughts on “Attacking in Self Defence”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I think that the assault on our freedoms by the Courts is so extreme that any re-statement of the law is worthwhile.

    The right of people to do what the State no longer does, or perhaps cannot do, or even perhaps it cannot be bothered to do, has suffered expecially.

    I doubt if we will have the right to defend ourselves in any situation, no matter what the danger to ourselves or others, for long.

  2. Not if it says the same thing.

    The problem has always been the word “reasonable”.

    It is very obvious (to me) that if it is the Police doing the arresting/intervention then almost anything is reasonable (think Brazilian electricians, amongst many others ……) ; they can be guaranteed to whinge about ‘under pressure’ ‘difficult circs’ etc.

    However, with an MOP, or certain other groups (teachers, carers) almost nothing is reasonable and you have to effectively prove that what you used was minimum reasonable force, or whatever, however stressful or difficult the particular situation.

    Same problem with the relevant evidence. Cops assume an allegation against a cop is a lie, and an allegation against an MOP is true, irrespective of the quality of the evidence itself.

  3. “assault on our freedoms by the Courts”

    Go on then, /one/ example where the courts convicted someone after they used reasonable (to The Man In The Clapham Omnibus) force in self-defence.

    (note: shooting someone in the back as they run away does not count as reasonable outside of Texas.)

  4. “shooting someone in the back as they run away does not count “: since they might well be running to fetch a weapon, it’s fair by me. The one time I was mugged, I got the knife off the bugger as he tried to stick it in my chest, and he just retreated and picked up his hidden club and whacked me on the head with it.

  5. I think that the assault on our freedoms by the Courts is so extreme that any re-statement of the law is worthwhile.

    Please provide an example.

  6. The one time I was mugged, I got the knife off the bugger as he tried to stick it in my chest, and he just retreated and picked up his hidden club and whacked me on the head with it.

    You were mugged on the set of a kung fu movie, presumably?

  7. The police, by the way, reckoned that his club was probably a bicycle pump with some lead wound round it. It was then favoured as a weapon that gave you a long reach – a darn sight longer than the reach of a bewildered victim holding someone else’s knife.

  8. I will advise my aged mother that she is now free to defend herself from intruders. This will make her feel much better, I’m sure.

    What use is a right to self-defence without the means?

  9. Ness: I want to get the mugger! I don’t know how to do it.
    Malone: You wanna know how to get the mugger? They pull a bicycle pump, you pull a punt pole…. That’s the Cambridge way!

    Sorry dearieme, couldn’t resist.

  10. john [email protected] (note: shooting someone in the back as they run away does not count as reasonable outside of Texas.)
    It’s not reasonable in Texas, either. A claim of self-defense will succeed only if the defender faced a credible threat of death or injury. What Texas (and other states) have is a law that defines any invader of a home or occupied vehicle as a prima facie threat. As a result, a resident who kills a burglar is rarely arrested, much less tried.

  11. John b writes, “Go on then, /one/ example where the courts convicted someone after they used reasonable (to The Man In The Clapham Omnibus) force in self-defence. ”

    Brett Osborn.

    Obviously, John, I didn’t make much impression on you when I cited this case when you and I had a very similar debate to this one!

    Tim adds: “some common sense should be applied.”

    Aye, that’s what juries do, what they’re for.

  12. Well, there’s this week’s, Steve Kink. Detained a yob smashing a window, after yob had punched him, holding him down on the floor. Lots of witnesses, nothing else.

    No surprise then ; Yob given a caution. Kink put in cell for six hours and charged with assault and battery.

    These cases are all over the place. Even when they are thrown out (not uncommon) the person gets smeared in the press, locked in cell etc etc etc.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    ZT – “It’s not reasonable in Texas, either. A claim of self-defense will succeed only if the defender faced a credible threat of death or injury.”

    Hasn’t a Texas jury just acquitted a man who got fed up talking to 9-11 and told them he was going to shoot the men robbing his neighbours’ house himself – which he then did?

    Interpretation is an odd thing.

    I think the real reason the Courts hate people taking justice into their own hands is that (and here I enter that strange paranoid twilight zone created by surfing the internet too much) they all want as many criminals out on the street as possible. Perhaps subconsciously. Perhaps not. But everyone involved, judges, lawyers, the police, everyone, has realised that crime pays – as long as they make sure as many criminals are free to commit as many crimes as possible they and their partners back in Chambers will be rolling in it forever.

    Freakishly abnormal as it is, you have to admit that it does have the advantage of explaining British criminal policy – and nothing else does.

  14. Natalie, while the circumstances of Osborn’s conviction and subsequent imprisonment seem wrong on the face of it, it must be noted that he entered a guilty plea…

  15. Paul, surely it’s best to wait and see the judgement before making any comment on Steve Kink’s case. After all, it appears that only his side of the story is in the papers.

  16. The Police have no qualms about spinning leaking and fibbing when it suits them.

    There are umpteen of these cases ; some go to court, some go to guilty verdicts. Usually supported by “we can’t ignore crime” statements ; don’t know why, they do the rest of the time. All of them get the usual smears and leaks and press releasing (why don’t we know the name of the cop who executed DeMenezes then ?)

    My particular favourite is a woman teacher called Pamela Mitchelhill, prosecuted for assaulting a child.

    What’s unusual about this is the victim was asked 10 times to make a complaint, and repeatedly said nothing happened. Then appeared as a defence witness.

    Given there were witnesses throughout there is no question about what Mr Kink has actually *done* ; it is entirely down to how the Police and CPS decide to proceed.

    I don’t think SMFS is right. I think the Police don’t like people doing their job for them, even though they won’t do it themselves.

    Osborn, again, is probably guilty. That’s not the issue ; the issue is the disinterest and/or refusal to take any action against the other party.

  17. Given there were witnesses throughout there is no question about what Mr Kink has actually *done* ; it is entirely down to how the Police and CPS decide to proceed.

    On the contrary, there is a question about what Mr Kink has actually done – his ‘victim’ has made a complaint of common assault. I don’t know on what grounds – I read somewhere an allegation that Kink ‘poked him in the eyes’. As I said, let’s wait and see what the magistrate hands down, we don’t yet know the other side of the case. As for the witnesses, well they probably thought the ‘victim’ got his just desserts.

    Osborn, again, is probably guilty. That’s not the issue ; the issue is the disinterest and/or refusal to take any action against the other party.

    The point is that Osborn was raised by Natalie as an example of someone convicted after using reasonable force. He entered a plea of guilty, so there was no question of whether or not he had the honest belief his use of force was reasonable, as the Man on the Clapham Omnibus never heard the case. In short, the example is invalid.

    Pamela Mitchelhill was prosecuted – presumably because two women claimed she assaulted the child – and later acquitted. How is this a valid example?

    You’ll get no argument from me about anonymous smears of victims of the police and I’ve commented on them on my blog and elsewhere. ‘Sources’ smear because it is expedient to do so, but I think the practice is disgusting, cowardly, dishonourable and shameful.

  18. I don’t think that the fact that Osborn pled guilty makes his example invalid. My impression is that the police put enormous pressure on people in this situation to plead guilty, giving them the impression that it is their only chance of getting out of prison before they are old. Remember that a person such as Osborn is NOT a hardened criminal, but someone who is probably both in shock at having killed a man – or even at having been involved in violence at all – and who is not mentally prepared for the interrogation cell.

    Furthermore, in these cases even when the charges are eventually dropped the process is the punishment. (I first heard that phrase on the blog House of Dumb, but it may be proverbial.) I have no doubt that the police spin out proceedings as long as possible. How would you like to live for months not knowing whether you would be charged, and then perhaps for months more until the trial, and then of course not knowing what the result would be?

    I do see the difficulty – when a life is taken, there must be investigation. Saying, as I do, that the police (and the CPS and the state generally) are abusing this necessary process denies me the chance to prove my point with neat statistics, as it is all a matter of degree. But I think they do.

  19. [email protected]’Hasn’t a Texas jury just acquitted a man who got fed up talking to 9-11 and told them he was going to shoot the men robbing his neighbours’ house himself – which he then did?’

    There were more complications in this case than straight-forward self-defense. The defendant was acting as a custodian of the neighbor’s property, which apparently gives him more rights than if he were just guarding his own. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t understand the details. (And it is true that a Texas jury does tend to believe that criminals deserve what they get).

    My main point was that people defending their own homes aren’t harassed by the police in Texas.

  20. “I don’t think that the fact that Osborn pled guilty makes his example invalid.”

    It bloody well does when you’re trying to cite an “example where the courts convicted someone after they used reasonable (to The Man In The Clapham Omnibus) force in self-defence“.

    And the custody suite point is nonsense – the issue wasn’t that he confessed to the cops to start with when he was shocked and scared, it was that on the basis of shockingly, atrociously bad advice from a lawyer who should be disbarred, he chose in the cold light of day to plead guilty.

  21. Sorry, that should be “from a lawyer who should be disbarred if the facts of the case are as reported by Osborn’s supporters in the press”.

  22. OK, agreed, the Osborn does not correctly fulfil your criteria as specified in the wording you used. He was not convicted by the courts but only sentenced by them. But it does fulfil the criteria we should be interested in, as a matter of public interest, namely that of “people screwed by the system when they defended themselves.” His case is relevant when discussing this issue, wouldn’t you agree? Or, putting it another way, your wording excludes a very high proportion of all relevant cases.

    My argument that he was a victim of a system hostile to those who defend themselves is not changed by your point that he had bad advice. The question is, how uncommonly bad? While I’m not as cynical as So Much For Subtlety in the comment above, I have no trouble believing that that particular form of bad advice offered by court-appointed defenders – who generally have excellent working relationships with the police – is actually the norm, and the consequence of tacit agreement / shared culture at best and explicit, corrupt agreement at worst.

  23. Sorry but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for the assertions being made here by Natalie and others. They seem to be largely if not wholly based on belief rather than fact.

    The level of public ignorance about self defence is made worse by inaccurate and one-sided articles in the media – not least because we tend to only ever hear about self defence when it ‘goes wrong’. Indeed, when was the last time an article was published in the national press about someone who defended himself and everything went smoothly for him?

    I don’t understand why the police would be particularly bothered about or biassed against householders who defend themselves against intruders (also what motivation is there for defence lawyers to collude with the police?). They do however have a duty to investigate claims made by ‘victims’ against their attackers and where it looks as if excessive force may have been used.

    Surely people can see that questions will arise when, for example, someone is stabbed a number of times from behind?

    That is the sort of case that may be prosecuted and where the Man on the Clapham Omnibus comes in handy.

  24. “Pamela Mitchelhill was prosecuted – presumably because two women claimed she assaulted the child – and later acquitted. How is this a valid example?”

    Is this a joke ?

    The “victim” was asked TEN times if anything was done to her. She said no TEN times

    At what point does this become coaching the witness ? if she had said yes ONCE would she have been asked ten times if she was sure ? (No).

    She stood as a DEFENCE witness in the case ! The sole “evidence” was a view through a window fourteen feet away.

    Do you *really* believe that if she had been a Police Officer this prosecution would have taken place ?

    FFS, it wouldn’t have taken place if the victim stated that she HAD been assaulted.

    That is the whole problem. Education is littered with behaviour like this from our cu*ts in blue.

  25. I am in agreance of some of the concepts here, however we teach Licensed SIA Close protection operatives and with regards to the criminal law act and human rights act the phrases such as “Reasonable” or “Justafiable” should be interperated from a use of force and MOI (Means, Opportunity and Intent) point of view. Some of you explain when are there clear examples of individuls getting away with self defence.

    We follow the MOI with the view of the amount of force under both acts that one can exact on a violent person. This is supported by the amount of cases we have been to and our officers have been granted self defence.

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