20 April 2000
Farmer jailed for murder to appeal

NORFOLK farmer Tony Martin is to appeal against the life sentence he received for murdering a teenage burglar who broke into his home.

Mr Martins mother, Hilary, says her son is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, reports the BBC Today programme.

Mr Martin, who spent the first night of his life sentence in Norwich Prison, is reported to be shocked and devastated by the sentence.

The conviction of Mr Martin receives extensive coverage in this mornings newspapers.

In its editorial, the Daily Mail says the 16-year-old burglar Fred Barras did not deserve to be shot.

But it argues that country-dwellers have become fair game for thieves because of police cuts, and says rural people must be questioning how they would respond in a similar situation.

“What has been glaringly exposed in this awful case is the way whole swathes of rural Britain have been abandoned by the forces of law and order,” writes the Mail.

The newspaper also criticises “lenient sentencing”, pointing out that the gang who descended on Mr Martins home “had no fewer than 114 convictions between them”.

The Guardian in its editorial, warns against the temptation to make Mr Martin a hero.

It writes: “The reason we set up a criminal justice system was to end the injustices that blood feuds, private revenge and lynch law created.”