Self Defense Case in Britain

denby collins

He may look alive, and by some measures he is, but Denby Collins is in a coma after breaking into an English home and losing his fight with the homeowner.

Quite an amazing story in Britain, where self-defense is generally ill thought of by the courts, and defending yourself against a violent criminal in your own home can be seen as reversing culpability entirely.

In a new civil suit by the family of burglar Denby Collins who was left a vegetable after bursting into December 2013, and being wrestled into a headlock by the homeowner, the courts seem to have sided, mirabile dictu, with the victim rather than the criminal, as usual.

Judges ruled that the “householder defence”, which relieves people of the responsibility of making fine judgments about proportionality in the heat of the moment, so long as it is necessary, was compatible with European human rights laws.

In a ruling handed down on Friday, they rejected a challenge brought by the family of a man who was left in a coma after allegedly intruding in a home in the early hours of the morning in December 2013.

Relatives of Denby Collins argued that the law, which was strengthened by the coalition government in 2013, was incompatible with the right to life guaranteed by the European convention on human rights.

While the judges stressed that their decision did not give people “carte blanche” to use any degree of force to protect themselves, they said that force was not necessarily unreasonable and unlawful “simply because it is disproportionate – unless it is grossly disproportionate”.

via Householders can use ‘disproportionate’ level of force against intruders | Law | The Guardian.

The family of Collins is disappointed that they haven’t been able to leverage his spectacular failure as a Wealth Redistribution Engineer into wealth redistribution for themselves:

Without the law in place, Collins’s family believe, “householder B” – who police investigators said restrained the alleged intruder in a headlock – would have been charged for unlawful wounding or another offence of violence.

…Collins’s family said they were “disappointed” and considering an appeal.

Yes, if you’re a family of criminals, you may find that disappointing.

Here in the States, suits like this have had mixed results in the civil courts, but most states’ criminal law allows the threat of deadly force to be met with deadly force.

While it seems that many sympathize with the plight of Denby Collins and his family, consider all the dozens, hundreds or even thousands more home invasions that were in his future, if he hadn’t been stopped for good.

11 thoughts on “Self Defense Case in Britain

  1. DSM

    Our SJAs kept a guy out of the pokey because he busted a would-be thief’s arm with a softball bat as he climbed in through his window. The prosecutor, or is it barrister?, used the “violence loving American” tactic but it was countered by the SOFA and whatever self defense law they invoked. They did cut his tour short though.

    Turds like this Collins are tragically very, very common over there. Petty BS crime was rampant during my tour in rural East Anglia and I don’t imagine it has changed much. It’s probably worse. Pity, it really is a nice country and most of the folks are friendly enough.


    Interesting…I would’ve thought that his pupils would be dilated. He must have enough brain function left for that to be working.

    And to hell with him anyway. The way I see it, if you break into someone’s house, you should forfeit all rights. If you get killed during a burg that should just be….ummm…dangit, no profanity now…..firm faeces. :-)

  3. Mike_C

    In a statement released by their [lawyers]: “Denby’s family continue to believe that the current law insufficiently protects a member of the public from extreme violence being used in self-defence where, for example, the person is left in a coma or is killed because they’re treated, rightly or wrongly, as an intruder into someone’s home. […] it should be sufficient for the CPS to prove that force used by anyone in self-defence is disproportionate for a person to be convicted for an act of violence of this type.”
    Hear hear! It’s unfair to restrict ridiculous ROEs to the military. We civilians need ridiculous ROEs as well.

    Mr Collins is trach’d and has what appears to be a Dobhoff (feeding) tube. It would be weird for him to be receiving nutrition from a Dobhoff after years in coma. Either he also has a PEG tube (which would not be visible in the photo) or it is an old photo. Without knowing additional facts about the case I have no feelings one way or the other towards Collins, but I definitely feel sorry for his caregivers — unless Collins’ back and bottom are a mess of bedsores, which would a) be terribly unprofessional on the part of the caregivers, b) lead to Collins’ demise soon enough.

  4. Alan Ward

    Born there, left when I was six, been back five times in the last 50 years…you couldn’t pay me to live there ever again. Shocking that the land of Magna Carta and the original Castle doctrine has degrade
    D to this level of bovine deposits..

  5. Raoul Duke

    Bottom line, since the beginning of time, in any society: If you are somewhere you shouldn’t be, doing something you shouldn’t be doing, don’t be surprised if bad things happen to you.

  6. bloke_from_ohio

    Would “home invade at your own risk” signs help at all? It seems to work on playgrounds and amusement parks.

    We had beware of dog signs for our goofy lovable Dalmatian and borderline demonic (but small and fluffy) Maltese out of paranoia over this kind of silliness. As a kid my dad always got spun up about a some incident where a burglar successfully sued the pants off a homeowner after falling through a skylight. I am not sure if that was really a thing that happened, or if it was just a urban legend. Regardless the dog signs went up and we never did get a skylight.

    1. Keith

      This was discussed my paralegal class. The facts mentioned were that suit was one because the burglar fell through a sky light. The court found for the burglar in civil court. The judgment was done because the there was no barrier around the sky light or signage indicating it could break if leaned on.

      Too me it’s right up there with the hot coffee one.

  7. Aesop

    Mistake one is turning the perp over to authorities, rather finishing them off, then composting them in the rose bed, or taking them for a nice country dump late one night.
    If you don’t want the government to go all stupid, don’t run to them and tell them what you did.
    Easy peasy.

    The Three “S”s: Not just for four-legged wildlife!

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