Sunday, 9 October 2011

Murder or principle: Defending your home

Imagine this scenario; you're in bed one evening when you hear a noise downstairs. Your partner is asleep next to you and your children are sleeping in the room next door. You pluck up the courage to investigate and you are confronted by an intruder. The intruder tries to wrestle you out of the way, maybe they even have a weapon. You know your family are possibly in danger. What do you do? You could step aside, allow this person to steal your belongings, knowing there is every possibility they may go upstairs and harm a member of your family, call the police although you know by the time they get there the intruder and your personal belongings will be well gone. That is what the law expects you to do. Human nature however is a different matter. Instinct tells you to protect yourself, your family and your possessions to the death. This person has broken into your home, putting your family at risk and is taking your things. They have no right to be there. So if you go with your instinct and try to defend your home, surely that is the correct thing to do. But the law doesn't expect you to do this.

On September 17th 2011, Vincent Cook was arrested for stabbing an armed intruder, that forced his way into his home, to death. The intruder, Raymond Jacob who was a common criminal and a drug addict, held Mr Cook at knifepoint after breaking into his house with another man. Mr Cook knew his wife and son would soon be returning home and so instinct caused him to stab the burglar to defend himself and his family. Yesterday, he was cleared with no charges after the CPS agreed that he acted in self-defence. Many would argue that there is a fine line between self-defence and murder. That killing someone for breaking into your home is unacceptable. But it begs the question, why is it unacceptable? There would be no need to act in self-defence if the intruders hadn't broken in in the first place.

I live alone with my daughter. I am meticulous when it comes to locking doors and windows. The thought of someone coming into my house, taking my things and putting our lives at risk makes me feel sick. And I don't condone murder in the slightest but if I was within reach of a harmful weapon when faced with an intruder, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would use all the strength I had to defend myself and my child. At least, that's what I'd like to think anyway. And I daresay that in those circumstances, most people would do the same.

But is it ever ok to kill in self-defence? And where do we draw the line? Somebody kills their partner and claims they were defending themselves. Somebody kills someone with who they were having an argument with and claim they were defending themselves. Surely murder to ensure your own safety cannot be condoned? Are material possessions worth taking someone's life over? Like I said, I don't agree with murder in most of its forms such as the death penalty. But we are programmed to protect our own. Look at animals in the wild, like lions for example. They protect their pride and every other lioness and cub within it, they even fight off other animals who try to take their food, a fresh kill or otherwise, because it belongs to them. It doesn't belong to anyone else and so other animals have no right to take it. It's all in principle. Your personal items may seem insignificant but they are your items, not to be stolen.

That said, if someone in the street came up to me and stole my purse, I wouldn't hunt them down and kill them. Yes, I would be angry and I would report them to the police. But after all, it's only a purse. It may have been mine, it may have had my cards and my money in it, but they are things that can be replaced. It is a whole different ball game when you start bringing loved ones into the equation. If someone broke into my house and tried to harm my daughter, I would take the biggest knife I could find and I wouldn't stop until they were dead. Because nobody hurts my child, she cannot be replaced if something happens to her. A person who has the nerve to come into a house that isn't theirs and try to harm someone whether they are a brother, daughter, mother or son to somebody, there is no excuse and in my opinion, they deserve everything they get. I would rather a scumbag drug addict was left dead than a member of my family at their hands. It doesn't make me a lunatic looking for an excuse to spill some blood. It makes me human.

Whether you think that murder in self-defence is right or not, the fact still remains that an intruder should not have entered your home in the first place. So why then, if they are consequently killed while the homeowner is defending themselves, is the homeowner the one that becomes the subject of scrutiny? Why does all the blame fall on them, these "knife-wielding maniacs" that absent mindedly stab at burglars until they're dead rather than the deadbeat low-life criminals that shouldn't have even been there in the first place? Why does nobody seem to question them? So many criminals break into houses as if it were second nature, harming its inhabitants and taking their belongings. And I don't doubt that, if caught, they would be punished accordingly. But more often than not, they aren't caught. I know people who have woken up one morning to find the downstairs of their home has been completely gutted of anything that was of any value. They can report it but the burglar will have since moved on and the likeliness of them being traced back there is small.

So just to reiterate what I have already said, anyone who thinks it is ok to force their way into someone's home deserves everything they get and I say good on those who stick up for themselves and try to fight off these criminals as a matter of principle and to protect what they hold dear. Because if we can't even defend our own, then what hope do we really have? And I for one will always go with my gut instinct to ensure me and my child come to no harm at the hands of a petty criminal. I whole heartedly believe that such circumstances shouldn't be punishable by law. Maybe then, burglars will think twice about breaking into people's homes in the first place.

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