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'Career burglar' stabbed 12 times by father-of-two who faces jail.

Byline: Shenai Raif

A father-of-two is facing a jail sentence after being convicted yesterday of the manslaughter of a 'career burglar' he found in his family's home. There were cries in the Old Bailey as Barry-Lee Hastings, 25, was cleared of murder but found guilty on 10-2 majority verdict of the manslaughter of Roger Williams, 35.

Mr Williams, of Tottenham, north London, died in January after being stabbed 12 times in the back.

The case has drawn comparisons with that of farmer Tony Martin, 57, who was jailed for life in 1999 for shooting dead 16-year-old Fred Barras as he burgled his home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk.

Malcolm Starr, Mr Martin's power of attorney, condemned the verdict and said that Hastings, of Wood Green, north London, 'should not have had to face a jury at all'.

He added: 'Anybody that enters your property should do so at their own risk and the person who owns the property should be allowed to defend it however he sees fit.

'You can't then brand those defending their property as a murderer.

'Who can predict what effect fear will have on any one person?'

Hastings, a gas engineer, told the court he acted to protect his family when he found Mr Williams in the house.

The court heard Mr Williams, who has many previous convictions, targeted the Tottenham property where Hastings's estranged wife Nicola and their two children lived.

Mrs Hastings and the children, both aged under four, were not at home but Hastings did not know that as he approached and saw a man in an upstairs bedroom.

Hastings told the court he picked up a knife from the kitchen to scare the intruder after finding the front door had been forced.

He said Mr Williams came running down the stairs and attacked him with what he took to be a machete and the fight spilled outside.

The court heard how three of the 12 stab wounds were potentially fatal and one had penetrated the heart.

Peter Kyte QC, for the prosecution, said that Hastings 'overstepped the mark' when he caught Mr Williams, 35, 'in mid-crime'.

Mr Kyte told the jury: 'The law recognises a man is entitled to defend himself, his family and his property - only if his action does not go beyond the reasonable and the necessary. 'There is no doubt Mr Hastings stumbled across a burglary. There is no doubt that Roger Williams was a thoroughly bad hat in the eyes of the law.

'But, nonetheless, as a human being he is just as entitled to the freedom to live as anyone else. We argue that in this case, alas, this man overstepped the mark and went some distance beyond that.'

Hastings told the court: 'At the time, I believed I was protecting my children.

'I was going to call the police on my mobile phone but I thought I heard my daughter crying.

'I thought I heard men's voices. I thought someone had the children up there. I thought something was happening to them. I decided to help my family and scare whoever was there off. I never intended to stab anyone.'

Hastings said he had a conviction for burglary at commercial premises and had been cautioned for carrying a knife.

Judge Brian Barker remanded Hastings in custody for presentence reports.

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Barry-Lee Hastings
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 11, 2002
Words:556
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