Judge sends out the right message
The public, we are sure, will applaud the comments made by Judge Michael Pert yesterday as he jailed two burglars who were shot when they broke into a cottage near Melton. The judge told them that being shot was not mitigation for their offence but simply the "chance you take" if you break into a house in the country where the householder owns and legally possesses a shotgun.
Well said. The public will have no sympathy whatsoever with the burglars and every sympathy with the terrified couple – Andy and Tracey Ferrie – who were woken in the dead of night and went downstairs to find intruders in their kitchen.
It is hard to imagine a much more frightening situation and it is entirely understandable that Mr Ferrie fired a legitimately-held shotgun in the circumstances described in court.
So would anybody in the same position.
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Unfortunately, the traumatised couple then had to suffer the further ordeal of being arrested and held for 40 hours before being released without charge.
It is a pity that this process had to take place but we do accept that it was necessary to fully investigate what had happened.
The important thing is that the conclusion of that investigation entirely and rightly vindicated Mr and Mrs Ferrie .
This case has received a huge amount of national media attention. It is good that it has reaffirmed the rights of householders to defend themselves.
And that was demonstrated again yesterday as the two burglars received their just deserts with jail terms and a clear message from the judge that they have nobody to blame for their injuries but themselves.
However, one less positive note is the question mark it once again leaves over the system of the early release of prisoners.
Both of the burglars who were jailed yesterday had been released early from sentences imposed for previous offences and were on licence at the time of the break-in.
It is surely time that the Government looked again at the system to make sure that there are tougher conditions for early release and that those who are freed are more strictly monitored.