10 April 2000
Accused farmer didnt trust police
by David Green
A FARMER accused of murdering a teenage burglar had no confidence in the police and rigged his property with security devices, a court has been told.
Tony Martin, 55, who lives in a remote farmhouse at Emneth, Norfolk, is on trial for murder after an incident at his home on the night of August 20 last year.
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, 26, 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 Martin slept fully-clothed wearing his boots “in contemplation of something.”
He and his family had been subject to previous burglaries although the house had not been subject to theft for many years prior to May last year.
During that incident, a chest of draws and some china of great sentimental value had been stolen.
Mr Martin had told a police officer when reporting that 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, also attended by some of his neighbours and friends, that the police were “a waste of time”.
Mr Martin, she said, had told the meeting: “Out there youre on your own- youre the law.”
The case, which is expected to last at least one week, continues.