Burglar damages bid fails

Jailed farmer Tony Martin was said to be "terrifically relieved" yesterday at news that a damages bid by the burglar he shot had failed.Malcolm Starr, who has led the campaign for Martin's freedom, said the farmer now wanted the law changed to prevent such a situation arising again.

Jailed farmer Tony Martin was said to be "terrifically relieved" yesterday at news that a damages bid by the burglar he shot had failed.

Malcolm Starr, who has led the campaign for Martin's freedom, said the farmer now wanted the law changed to prevent such a situation arising again.

Mr Starr said Martin's lawyers had contacted him to say that a planned legal action by burglar Brendon Fearon had failed.

"Tony's lawyer phoned me and I have spoken to Tony about the news. He said, 'That is a terrific relief',' said Mr Starr.


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"Tony has probably had more letters about this issue of him being sued for damages than he did after the original shooting incident.

"He does want the law changed to stop this happening again.

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"And I think the average person on the street would also feel it is ridiculous that the law allows someone like Fearon to seek damages from someone like Tony in this sort of situation.'

Martin, 58, shot and wounded Fearon, 33, during a break-in at his isolated home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in August 1999.

Martin also shot dead Fearon's 16-year-old accomplice Fred Barras after confronting the pair in his farmhouse late at night.

Fearon and Barras - plus a third man - had driven 60 miles from their homes in Newark, Nottinghamshire, in the hope of stealing antiques from Martin's home.

Martin was originally convicted of murder and jailed for life.

On appeal the conviction was reduced to manslaughter and he is currently serving a five-year sentence.

Martin is due for release in July but is currently trying to persuade the Parole Board to free him before that date.

Fearon, who was jailed for his part in the raid on Martin's home and has more than 30 criminal convictions, was given legal aid to launch a claim for damages as a result of being shot.

He alleged that his wounds had affected his ability to enjoy sex and that he had suffered post-traumatic stress.

Mr Starr said the claim had collapsed following a hearing at Nottingham County Court in which a judge had ruled that Fearon had failed to provide sufficient evidence to justify his claim.

"Tony was genuinely worried that he could have lost this case on a technicality,' added Mr Starr.

"It seems ludicrous that people like Fearon can get legal aid to pursue this kind of action and that solicitors will take up the case.

"Tony was particularly disappointed that no Government spokesman has spoken out about this situation in public.'

Fearon is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence after being convicted at Nottingham Crown Court in February of supplying heroin.

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