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Professional opinion divided over defence; APPEAL: Court asked to re-examine farmer's controversial murder verdict.

TONY Martin, the farmer serving life for murdering a teenage burglar, had suffered sexual abuse as a child and lived a reclusive life in fear of being invaded and violated, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

Martin, who had failed in relationships with women, told psychiatrists his collection of teddy bears in the bedroom of his isolated farmhouse were "very nice people" and explained the squalid state of his home by saying, "I am a perfectionist and perfectionists don't get things done."

The fresh evidence, not heard by the jury which convicted Martin because it was not gathered until after his trial, was yesterday the subject of a clash of professional opinion between experts as to whether the farmer was suffering from a paranoid personality disorder and therefore entitled to the defence of diminished responsibility.

An appeal court headed by the Lord Chief Justice is being asked to re-examine the controversial murder verdict returned by a Norwich Crown Court jury in April last year.

Martin, 56, has always insisted that he acted in self-defence when he shot 16-year-old Fred Barras with a pumpaction shotgun at Bleak House, Emneth Hungate, near Emneth, Norfolk, on the night of August 20, 1999.

The farmer was jailed for life and was also given a 10-year sentence for wounding Barras's accomplice, Brendon Fearon, now 30.

The hearing was adjourned until today.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 16, 2001
Words:226
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