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Monday 17 December 2018

UK farmer who shot teenage burglar dead in 1999 says he has no regrets and would do it again

If I'm in the house and somebody comes in the house, I'm going to look after myself,’ the farmer says

Tony Martin was subject to international media attention after he killed a burglar on his farm in 1999 ( PA )
Tony Martin was subject to international media attention after he killed a burglar on his farm in 1999 ( PA )

Toyin Owoseje

A farmer who shot a dead a teenage burglar has revealed that he has no regrets over the incident and would do it again.

Tony Martin sparked a national debate in 1999 after he killed 16-year-old Fred Barras on his remote Norfolk farm. While many argued that he had the right to defend his home, others branded him a dangerous vigilante.

The farmer, who slept with a shotgun under his bed after his home was targeted in a string of burglaries, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison after the jury rejected his claim of self-defence.

However, Mr Martin was released from prison in 2003 after his murder conviction was downgraded to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility.

The story, which made headlines across the globe, is the inspiration for Channel 4 dramatisation, The Interrogation, which will air this weekend.

Directed by Dave Nath, it uses the transcripts from Mr Martin’s police interviews following his arrest to give viewers an insight into the man as well as the crime.

After years of avoiding the press attention, Mr Martin, now 74, has given his first broadcast interview about the case.

At the end of the drama he is seen visiting to the boarded-up farmhouse, which he still owns, but has not lived in since the night of the shooting.

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He admits he chooses to live with friends because he fears he will react violently should he be burgled again.

“I don't want to get locked up. If I'm in the house and somebody comes in the house, I'm going to look after myself,” he told the programme.

“If you think I'm going to stand there and ask them what they're doing, I'm not that stupid.”

Asked if he was troubled by Fred’s death, he admitted that he didn’t give his victim a second thought because “what goes around, comes around.”

“When I was his age I lived with my grandparents – didn't go breaking into bloody houses 16 miles down the road.”

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