Wednesday, September 11, 2002

In Britain, A Man's Home Is No Longer His Castle

A depressing story from the London Times. The story starts out, "A FATHER-OF-TWO who stabbed a 'career criminal' to death with a bread knife after finding him burgling his family’s home was found guilty of manslaughter yesterday." But that doesn't fully capture the injustice of the jury convicting Barry-Lee Hastings of manslaughter.

Barry-Lee Hastings found his front door forced open, believed his family was at home, and feared that a burglar was inside with his kids. He picked up a bread knife, was attacked by the burglar who was carrying a "jemmy" (probably British for a prybar), and in the ensuing fight, Hastings stabbed the burglar to death. The burglar had a long criminal record, and was wanted by police at the time.

Another sad point about the decline in the British system of justice: a criminal conviction by 10-2 -- not unanimous.

UPDATE: John Anderson points out that Mr. Hastings had a previous criminal record also, for burglary, and for carrying a knife. I'm not sure that this is, or should be relevant, however. Hastings was in his own home; the person he killed had forced entry; there is no reason given in the article to believe that the death wasn't the result of a fight between an unlawful felon and the resident.

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