A 33-year-old man has been granted bail after being accused of murdering a man who broke into his house and tried to steal a handbag.
Ben Batterham was given conditional bail by a magistrate at the Newcastle Local Court today much to the disappointment of the murder victim’s mother who launched a tirade against the accused outside.
The court heard that Betterham chased Ricky Slater-Dickson 400 metres down the street, placed him in a choker hold and repeatedly punched him after catching him inside is kitchen trying to steal a bag.
Slater-Dickson died from his injuries the next day.
The case has gripped many people due to the question at the centre of the issue: Do you have a right to go to extreme lengths to protect and defend yourself.
Some have argued that a person should be able to go to whatever lengths they feel necessary to protect themselves – especially in their own home.
Others though, say violence is never the answer and that we should find other ways to keep ourselves safe.
Seniors, in particular, have raised a number of concerns over the issue.
There have been numerous stories in the media about older people being targeted by thieves who see them as more vulnerable and less able to fight back.
Many have said they believe people should be able to defend themselves if they are able to and not have to worry about legal consequences.
“We have a self defence law for a reason,” one commenter said.
“I don’t want to have to worry about being charged with assault while I’m trying to stop someone else from attacking me. Where’s the justice in that?”
As it stands, the law in NSW says that when it comes to self defence the courts will consider the subjective and the objective issues of the case.
Sydney-based criminal lawyer Andrew Tiedt told The New Daily the verdict rests on how scared you were at the time of the incident.
“Subjectively, the court will consider how fearful you were at the time, so if you get paranoid, how scary it was for you at the time and more,” Mr Tiedt said.
“Objectively, the court will then look at how reasonable your reaction was in proportion to your fear at the time.”
He said violence is sometimes justified in the eyes of the law because a person would understandably be scared if they found an intruder in their house, but it’s not always a case of black and white.
“Killing someone, for example, would require a significant level of fear, if not a threat to your life.”
No matter how afraid a person is, they “can’t just go around killing someone because they are afraid”, he said.
“Just because someone is inside your house and has threatened to kill you doesn’t necessarily mean you can kill them.
“Legally, you can never say that killing an intruder is wrong, and you can never say that it is right.”
What are your thoughts on this issue?