Score one for justice

Excellent news today that murder charges against Omari Roberts have been dropped. You may not know who Mr Roberts is. He’s a young man who defended his mother’s house from two burglars who he caught in the act. One of them was armed with a knife (which, it’s just been revealed, came from the kitchen in the house).

In the struggle, one 14 year old was seriously injured. The other burglar died of injuries received. There was a third who was acting as lookout, but he still hasn’t been caught.

Months after the incident, Roberts was charged by murder by the Crown Prosecution Service as they believed that he had acted with excessive force and that a prosecution was “in the public interest”. This despite the fact that the only witness – key to the trial – was the burglar who was injured.

Who, obviously, wasn’t going to be biased in any way at all.

As it turns out, this little thief’s statements changed over time to the point where his most recent one actually tied in pretty much with Mr Roberts’ – whose statement had never changed.

There are two main points here:

  1. Was what happened an example of excessive force?
  2. Should Mr Roberts have been put up for trial in the first place?

The law’s definition of excessive force is incredible vague. The person charged must be able to prove self defence, and that such defence hadn’t been excessive.

An individual charged with an offence such as assault may claim to have been acting in self-defence. The question that will have to be answered is whether the amount of force used was, objectively, reasonable in the circumstances as the individual honestly believed them to be. In other words, did he really believe that the only way to prevent himself, or someone else, being harmed was to hurt the attacker?

This is a question that will have to be answered by the jury. In answering it the jury will take into account both the particular characteristics of the individual – such as their age, gender and relative strength – and the circumstances surrounding their actions. The jury will have to ask whether the average, reasonable person sharing the individual’s characteristics would have acted in the same way if they had been in that situation. However, if the individual suffers from a psychiatric condition which contributed to them acting in the way they did this cannot be used as an excuse and should not be taken into account.

(the above from

How is a jury supposed to be able to tell what an “average, reasonable” person does in very unreasonable, perhaps unique circumstances?

While I do maintain that death is a pretty harsh punishment for burglary, I do maintain that anyone who invades your property should by doing so assume that they have forfeited their own human rights. If a cursory examination appears to support the person defending their property then they shouldn’t feel that they’re not at risk of legal repercussions due to an even over which they had no control.

If you’re outnumbered in a fight, the first priority is your own safety. If the people you’re fighting aren’t interested in running away then you have to put the odds on your side. If that means risking killing one of them then so be it – it’s them or you. As soon as they involve a knife, they raise the odds.

I have no sympathy at all for the person who died in the incident involving Mr Robert. I also have no sympathy for the one who ended up in hospital. I do, however, have all the time in the world for a young man who was defending his mother and her property. He should never have had to go through all this legal mess.

With an election coming up, it’s a good time for parties to consider raising this topic.

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