As the BBC News is currently reporting, the day after leave to appeal against the conviction of a businessman who attacked and permanently injured a burglar who had tied up his family was refused by the Court of Appeal, the businessman in question has been released.
Munir Hussain has had his sentence reduced from 30 months prison to 12 months, suspended for two years and a supervision order for those two years. As is common in the UK at present, Mr Hussain’s release is being touted as justice for those who feel it is right to be free to defend one’s family and self in one’s own home. However, the law already provides for this.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 continues the long and well-established tradition of preventing the prosecution of anyone who employs reasonable force in self-defence; or when attempting to prevent a lawfully arrested person from escaping.
So why was Mr Hussain convicted in the first place? If his family were tied up by burglars who had broken into his own home, surely he was allowed to defend himself and his family from these criminals?
Well yes, and also no.
The problem is, from what the reports are saying, that he did not just limit himself to defending his family. He escaped from the burglars, went to his brother and then returned. The two men then chased the burglars out of the house and set upon them. This, it seems, is why he and his brother were arrested, tried and convicted.
For the self-defence to be successfully pleaded, one has to be in fear for one’s life, or the life of another. This has to be an immediate fear, not something that occurred in the past. Once Mr Hussain left his home to seek his brother’s help, the immediacy of the situation becomes problematic.
In addition, recruiting help to free his family was likely not an unreasonable move. Who wouldn’t think of going for help if help was nearby? But to chase someone down and commit serious assault on them once the family were safe? That goes beyond reasonable self-defence.
Chasing the burglars down and keep them from escaping until the police arrive is, of course, fine and a move that should be applauded. But beating them to a pulp is, quite simply, not on.