14 April 2000

Dead teenage burglar had long record

A TEENAGE burglar shot dead at a Norfolk farm last August had a criminal record stretching back to when he was 12, Norwich Crown Court was told this week.

Fred Barras, aged 16, had made 18 court appearances, mainly for burglary and theft, but including two for assaulting policemen, before he was shot last summer, the court heard. He had also been sentenced to a number of spells in a youth detention centre and, at the time of his shooting, was on bail for another offence.

Tony Martin, 55, who lives in a remote farmhouse at Emneth, Norfolk, is on trial for Mr Barrass murder after an incident at his Emneth home on the night of August 20 last year. The court was told Mr Martin had no confidence in the police and rigged his property with security devices. He is alleged to have told a local Farmwatch meeting a few months before the incident: "Out there youre on your own – youre the law".

Mr Martin pleaded not guilty to the murder of Fred Barras, 16, and to the attempted murder of Brendan Fearon, 30, both of Newark, Nottinghamshire. He also pleaded not guilty to two other charges, one of wounding with intent and the other of possessing a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. However, Mr Martin has pleaded guilty to a separate charge of possessing a shotgun without a certificate.

Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Martin, who lived alone with his Rottweiler dogs, described his way of life as eccentric. The house was almost derelict and had only two lights. Iron bars were fixed to the inside of doors and windows. Steps had been removed from the bottom and the top of the stairs, the latter gap being described by the QC as a "booby trap".

She said ladders were positioned on the roofs of outbuildings and had been lashed to trees and it was for the jury to decide whether they were "lookout posts". Ms Horwood-Smart told the court that Mr Martin slept fully-clothed wearing his boots "in contemplation of something."

Mr Martin had told a police officer when reporting a previous burglary that if the culprits returned he would "blow their heads off", said Ms Horwood-Smart. She said the defendant claimed at a local Farmwatch meeting, that the police were "a waste of time".

The case continues. &#42