Did judge give homeowners 'licence to shoot' burglars?

Sep 27, 2012

You should expect to be shot, judge tells burglars blasted with shotgun during country break-in

Leicester police

THE two burglars shot by a homeowner when he discovered them breaking into his rural cottage were jailed yesterday and told by the judge that getting shot was “the chance you take” if you enter homes where there are legal firearms.

Judge Michael Pert's remark has been interpreted by the Daily Mail as a "licence to shoot" criminals. The paper said: "Burglars who break into country homes can expect to be shot at by their victims."

The judge made his remark at Leicester Crown Court yesterday when he sentenced Daniel Mansell, 33, and Joshua O'Gorman, 27, to four years' jail for breaking into the home of businessman Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracy in Welby, near Melton Mowbray last month.

Finding the men in his kitchen, Ferrie fired his shotgun, for which he holds a licence, hitting O'Gorman in the face and Mansell in the arm.  

O'Gorman's lawyer asked for a reduced sentence because his client had been left "traumatised" by the shooting. But Judge Pert dismissed all pleas for leniency pointing out that the men's victims, who were arrested on suspicion of GBH after the shooting, had also been badly affected. "Some might argue that being arrested and locked up for 40 hours is a trauma," he said.

"The judge's remarks were widely welcomed by those arguing that the justice system needs to be more on the side of the victim of crime rather than the perpetrator," said The Daily Telegraph.

Alan Duncan, the Ferries' constituency MP, said: "Three cheers for the judge; he has been robust and sensible. Justice has been done and, as I said from the start, the culprits are the culprits and the victims are the victims. The police did a very good job and investigated as thoroughly as they had to when a firearm is involved."
However, Mrs Ferrie's mother said that the sentences were not long enough. "I don't think four years is nearly enough. It's no deterrent to villains like these," she told the Daily Mirror. "It's quite simple, if they hadn't broken into my daughter's home then they wouldn't have been shot. They can't expect sympathy."
She also revealed that the Ferries have now moved to Australia over fears of revenge attacks.
There is concern that the judge's remark could prompt burglars to arm themselves. Blogger Jeff Taylor, writing on Economic Voice, said: "The only concern we should have is whether or not this could lead to burglars preparing to 'go equipped' with a weapon themselves... The last thing we need is an arms race between burglars and potential victims."

Sign up for our daily newsletter