Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

No charges over burglar stabbing

Householder Peter Flanagan will not be charged over John Bennell's death

A man who stabbed a burglar to death has been released without charge after a prosecutor ruled he acted in self-defence amid "frightening circumstances".

Peter Flanagan, 59, was arrested on suspicion of murder after he confronted John Bennell, 27, who broke into his home in Salford, Greater Manchester, along with a group of other masked men - one of whom was wielding a machete.

The engineer had been due to answer bail next Monday but the North West's Chief Crown Prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, has now ruled that Mr Flanagan used reasonable force when he was disturbed by the intruders shortly before midnight on June 22.

He said: "In reaching this decision I have looked carefully at the evidence that the police have presented in this case and have taken into consideration the Crown Prosecution Service policy on householders and the use of force against intruders. In a case such as this I have to ask myself whether the use of force was necessary and whether it was reasonable in the circumstances.

"People are entitled to use reasonable force in self-defence to defend themselves, their family and their property. All the evidence indicates that in the frightening circumstances that he faced, Mr Flanagan did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary to protect himself and his home from intruders."

Mr Flanagan, described as a hard-working man by neighbours, was arrested on suspicion of murder and later bailed pending further inquiries.

His son, Neil, 27, and a 21-year-old woman were also arrested but released without charge.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "When presented with the circumstances of that evening, we made the right and proper decision to make the arrests.

"We had a duty of care to John Bennell's family, the occupants of the house and to the coroner to fully investigate this death to determine whether or not it was a criminal act or one of self-defence. I am satisfied that we provided the full facts of the case to the CPS and I respect their decision."

Mr Flanagan was unavailable for comment.

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