It troubles me when people such as Bryan Lawson write to say how they support Tony Martin and "his stand against infiltrators"('I admire Tony', Letters. June 18).

While I support the right to defend one's home against burglars, using violence if genuinely necessary, the response must always be proportionate.

Let's not forget that Tony Martin killed an unarmed 16-year-old by shooting him in the back while he was running away. That is not defending one's home, it is vengeance and something we should not tolerate in a civilised society.

The jurors who heard his case were advised by the judge they could return a manslaughter verdict, rather than murder, if they found the farmer "did not intend to kill or cause serious bodily harm".

They decided his actions went beyond appropriate self-defence and convicted him of murder. He would have served a life sentence but for the intervention of the appeal court which reduced his conviction to manslaughter on evidence suggesting he was suffering from a paranoid personality disorder.

It really annoys me that the Tories are trying to make political capital out of this. Surely, even under their proposed new legal rationale, this would be a "grossly disproportionate" response and he would still have faced a long prison term.

Paul Blanchard,

Heworth Mews,


Updated: 10:41 Tuesday, June 21, 2005