07 September 1999
Murder-charge farmer freed on bail
By FWi staff
TONY Martin, the Norfolk farmer charged with murder after an intruder was shot dead on his farm, has been freed on bail by a high court judge.
Mr Martin was freed on conditional bail pending a trial by jury after a 30-minute hearing at Norwich Crown Court in front of Judge David Mellor.
He has been ordered to appear before Norwich magistrates on 2 November.
The campaign of support for Mr Martin, which includes a defence fund and a website on the internet, shows no sign of slowing.
The Tony Martin Defence Campaign site was set up by M&S Solicitors, Mr Martins representatives whose offices are in the village of Heather, Leicestershire.
Mr Martin was charged with murder following the shooting of a 16-year-old youth during an alleged break-in on his farm at Emneth, near Wisbech, on 21 August.
“This case has clearly touched a nerve with a lot of people,” the website says.
“This case is not simply about Tonys fate, but also the wider issue of the extent to which people are entitled to use force to defend themselves and their homes.”
A second application to secure bail for Mr Martin is expected to be heard by a judge in chambers this week.
The outrage many have expressed about the murder charge appears to come from a belief that the law is weighted too heavily in favour criminals, it continues.
Solicitor Nick Makin said Mr Martins family wished to ensure that he received the best possible representation at the forthcoming trial.
This will involve a thorough investigation by solicitors at an early stage and the hiring of a top Queens Counsel, he added.
Farmers and neighbours have voiced widespread support for Mr Martin since the murder charge was brought.
A fund to raise money for his defence has already raised in excess of £10,000 of the six-figure sum needed.
Farmers Weekly has received a number of e-mail responses within hours of running a story about Mr Martin on FWi last Friday.
Mr Martin “was placed in a situation, through no fault of his own, which any of us in the countryside could find ourselves in,” said one e-mail.
“Crime is on the increase in the countryside, and people living in isolated farms are especially vulnerable.”
Nigel Wright, another FWi user, called for Mr Martins release, saying that it would be wrong if he were convicted.
“I am sure that he will have the death of the young lad on his mind for the rest of his life and it will serve as a deterrent for the other thieves,” he wrote.
“I hope that you get justice when you go to court and get found not guilty of
anything more than disturbing the peace.”
Other e-mails were equally supportive.
“Every farmer we have spoken to is of the same opinion,” said one. “We trust that you will pass on the views expressed.”
The Tony Martin Defence Fund website is at http://www.ballinger.i12.com/martin.htm
Hundreds pledge support for Norfolk farmer, FWi, 3 September, 1999
Defence fund for Norfolk farmer, FWi, 2 September 1999
Farmer held after youth shot dead, FWi, 23 August 1999