Police defend farmhouse response

NORFOLK Police today defended the security operation they are mounting around Tony Martin's home.Martin, 58, criticised police for "locking the stable door when the horse had bolted" - but a spokesman for Norfolk Police said officers were making a "proportionate response' to the situation.

NORFOLK Police today defended the security operation they are mounting around Tony Martin's home.

Martin, 58, criticised police for "locking the stable door when the horse had bolted" - but a spokesman for Norfolk Police said officers were making a "proportionate response' to the situation.

Martin was freed from custody yesterday after serving two-thirds of a five-year sentence for the manslaughter of 16-year-old burglar Fred Barras.

Barras, of Newark, Nottinghamshire, died after Martin shot him in the back with an illegally-held pump-action shotgun in August 1999.


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Martin also wounded Barras's accomplice, 33-year-old Brendon Fearon, also of Newark.

He opened fire after confronting the two intruders at his isolated farmhouse in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, late at night.

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He was originally convicted of murdering Barras, but the conviction was reduced to manslaughter by the Court of Appeal.

Martin, who has sold his story to the Daily Mirror newspaper, has not been seen at the dilapidated farm since he left prison.

But police have set up a temporary police station outside the farm which is manned throughout the day.

A Chief Superintendent and a Superintendent were this morning among the officers at the property.

Police say there have been a number of threats against Martin and his property.

The police spokesman said he was not responding to criticisms of police made by Martin in today's Daily Mirror.

But he went on: "We are making a proportionate response to the situation we are faced with. Given the situation and the report of threats against Mr Martin it would be irresponsible if we did not do that, and indeed we would be criticised if we did not do that.

"For obvious reasons we cannot go into detail about what security arrangements we might have in place.

"Senior officers are not personally taking part in the operation but have merely been checking with officers in the mornings before arriving at work.'

He added: "The other issue is road safety and traffic. There are a large number of media vehicles around the farm which is situated near a bend in a country road.

"We have to have a presence there to ensure road safety given the number of vehicles.'

Martin told the Daily Mirror, in his first interview since being released from jail: "The world has gone quite, quite mad'.

He said he was not bitter but added: "Yes I am angry. I didn't get justice. I got rough justice.

"I can't even find the words to describe what I have been through.

"Can you imagine it? Being given a murder sentence? There is nothing worse, except being told to sit down while someone tells you have cancer and have six weeks to live.

"But I have survived it because I have made myself survive it.'

He said of the mobile police station outside his farm: "And people think I am crackers. The police are looking after me. Isn't that a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?

"If they'd done something as simple as listening to my worries before, none of this would have happened. Now I have my own police force.

"The world has gone quite, quite mad.'

Before being freed, Martin was held at a secret location for a few days for security reasons after being moved from Highpoint Prison, near Haverhill, Suffolk.

He was expected to pocket around £100,000 from selling his story to the Daily Mirror and the ITV Tonight television programme.

His MP, Conservative Henry Bellingham, said Martin needed money to pay huge legal bills and to fund improvements to his dilapidated farmhouse.

Mirror editor Piers Morgan said Martin's case "raises a number of significant public interest issues relating to crime in this country, and in particular the way that victims now appear to receive less rights than the criminals who prey on them.

"Mr Martin has a lot to say about what has happened to him, and his dramatic account of the events surrounding his case should lead to several fundamental changes in the law.'

But Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said today that the Government was looking at the law on payments to criminals.

"We are looking at how the criminal and civil law might be applied to prevent offenders profiting from their crimes by writing or selling stories about them,' she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We are looking at a range of options at the moment.'

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