Monday, 19 September 2011

Death - an occupational hazzard of being a burglar?

This weekend a man was stabbed to death in Stockport after apparently attempting to burgle a house. It is alleged that the man and his accomplice attempted to enter the house wielding a knife, and that the owner tackled them and stabbed one of them to death while the other fled the scene.

The home owner was initially arrested on suspicion of murder, and has since been released on bail, meanwhile the friends and family of the deceased man have been laying floral tributes outside of the house he was alleged to have been burgling at the time of his death.

Now the question has been asked numerous times whether it is right that a home owner should be able to kill an intruder who is attempting to burgle them, views do obviously differ on this point but generally the view is that as long as it is only reasonable force then if someone is threatening you or your family then if you kill them you shouldn't be prosecuted.

But surely another question that we should ask is whether, if you decide to go out burgling other people's houses, then the potential to be killed or at best seriously injured by a terrified homeowner is just an occupational hazard?

Some professions carry risk of death or serious injury. If you join the police force there is a chance you will be injured in the line of duty. Many of our troops have been killed and seriously injured in the line of duty. Even being a bus driver carries the risk of injury/death when we consider the number of accidents on our roads each year.

But the difference is that we need these professions. So while someone might not choose to be a police officer or to join the army or drive buses, we need people to do these things, and sometimes the people that choose these professions will end up hurt, or worse in the line of their work.

But being a burglar is a choice that only the burglar makes. We do not need burglars - burglary is, in fact, illegal. And therefore, by choosing to burgle other peoples' properties, the burglar has already done so in the knowledge that, if he is caught, he will face the legal consequences of his crimes.

It is therefore surely not unreasonable to think that if you choose to be a burglar, then you do so in the knowledge that you will anger the owners of the properties you are burgling, and that at some point one of them might actually get angry enough to inflict a serious injury or even kill you.

Getting caught and sent to prison could be seen as an occupational hazard. So why not also the homeowner deciding to defend himself/his family/property.

Killing someone is never an ideal outcome. However if that someone is breaking the law and is already somewhere they shouldn't be they did have a choice.

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