Homeowner arrested after Melton Mowbray shooting is 'soft as mud' say family
A man arrested after two alleged intruders were shot at his home is "soft as mud", his family say.
Andrew Ferrie, 35, told police he had fired a legally-held shotgun after a group of men broke into Grange Farm Cottage, in Welby, near Melton, in the early hours of Sunday.
He and his 43-year-old wife, Tracey, have been at a police station in Leicester since, facing questioning on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. Four men – two with shotgun injuries – have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary.
Yesterday, Mr Ferrie's stepfather, Maris Spilner, of Branston Road, Uppingham, described his stepson as "a big soft beastie".
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"I've known Andrew for 20 years, he has a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody," he said.
"He's as soft as mud.
"In fact, he was perhaps a bit too soft for his size – he's well over 6ft. He's a lovely lad.
"His sister, Christiane, is with us now – she's not got long to go before she gives birth and isn't in a very good state because of what's happened."
Mr Spilner said Mr and Mrs Ferrie had lived at Grange Farm Cottage once before, a few years ago, and had suffered break-ins then.
He said they were now preparing to emigrate.
"Andrew has a business repairing mobile homes and caravans and they bought a larger property in Melton with outbuildings so he could work under cover," said Mr Spilner.
"They lived there for about two or three years and then sold up because they were going to emigrate to Australia.
"They had re-rented the cottage on a short-term basis before emigrating in a few months.
"The first we knew what had happened was when reporters started knocking at the door.
"Even today, we only know what we have read in the newspapers or seen on television or been told by reporters. We haven't heard anything else.
"My wife, Susan, rang the police, but they wouldn't tell us anything. My wife hasn't seen or spoken to her son. She's very upset. We all are."
People who spoke to the Mercury yesterday believed householders should have the right to protect themselves against intruders.
Alan Pearson, managing director of SAQ International, on the adjoining Asfordby Business Park, said: "Given they've had previous break-ins, he was outnumbered and wanted to protect his wife and his property. I think he had every right to do what he did."
A woman who asked not to be named – a member of a walking group from Grimston, which was passing the cottage – said: "Surely, you should have the right to protect yourself against people breaking into your home?"
Another woman, who also asked not to be named, said: "I would use anything which came to hand to defend myself."
Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan said: "If this is a straightforward case of someone using a shotgun to defend themselves against burglars in the dead of night, then I would hope that the police will prosecute the burglars and not my constituents.
"The householder is the victim here and justice should support them and prosecute the burglars."
Leicestershire Police said Mr Ferrie called them at 12.26am on Sunday to report a group of men had broken into his home.
Police said the man had stated that during the incident he had fired a legally-held shotgun and the intruders had left the scene.
About five minutes later, the ambulance service called the police to tell officers it had been called to a man with shotgun injuries.
A second man went to Leicester Royal Infirmary with similar injuries. Neither man's injuries were said to be life-threatening. Both men were arrested. They have now been discharged from hospital. One of the men was discharged last night, and the second was discharged this afternoon.
It is understood two other men were arrested at the hospital. The four men are aged 23, 27, 31 and 33.
Magistrates yesterday granted police more time to question all six people.
By late yesterday afternoon, there were still seven marked police vehicles at the property.
White-suited forensics officers could be seen coming and going from the door of the stone cottage.
A team of nine specialist search officers using long poles swept a field between the cottage and neighbouring Welby Church.
Robert Milligan, who lives nearby, said: "I thought an Englishman's home was his castle.
"If you can't protect yourself and your family something is wrong."