A farmer who shot and killed a teenage burglar more than 20 years ago in a headline-grabbing case said he “has no regrets.”
Tony Martin, 78, became infamous after he murdered 16-year-old Fred Barras after the latter broke into his farm with Brendon Fearon in 1999.
Martin confronted the pair and fired his shotgun, killing Barras and wounding Fearon.
Two decades after his release, Martin says he wants to clear his name, but thinks he has little hope of doing so. The Mirror reports.
He is hesitant about going ahead with an appeal to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, telling the media that he “came out of the blue.”
Tony Martin outside his Bleak House farmhouse, in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, shortly after his release from prison in August 2003
Martin shot and killed burglar Fred Barras (pictured), 16, in 1999 at his Bleak House farm in Emneth Hungate near Emneth, Norfolk
Mr. Martin said, ‘You may think I have a chip on my shoulder, but that is unavoidable. I have not met anyone who says I was wrong. I don’t think people appreciate what happened. I’ve been naive, I’m too honest for my own good and I don’t like dishonesty.
“I would like to appeal, but I can’t because you need new evidence. My idea of new evidence and their idea (of it) are different.
“I’d like to clear my name before I die, but that may never happen. The law doesn’t allow it.’
Mr Martin was convicted of the murder of Mr Barras in 2000, but the case made headlines again just a year later when the verdict was overturned on appeal. Following this, Mr. Martin was sentenced to three years in prison for manslaughter
Mr Martin was on the loose in July 2003 and still firmly believes that his manslaughter conviction should also be overturned.
The pensioner inherited the £3 million Bleak House Farm in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, after the death of her aunt 40 years ago.
But he says he hasn’t set foot in the dilapidated farmhouse since the fateful night he shot Barras, and instead lives in a neighboring barn and house.
He recalled the night of the murder and described it as a “terrifying experience”
Aerial view of Tony Martin’s land in Emneth, Norfolk, where he shot dead 16-year-old burglar Fred Barras in 1999
After being mugged repeatedly before the shootings, Mr. Martin confronted Barras and Fearon with an unlicensed pump-action rifle when they broke into his home on August 20, 1999.
He fired three shots, one in the hallway and two on the stairs. He hit both intruders in the leg and Barras in the back, killing him.
Fearon, then aged 29, who admitted to conspiring to break into Bleak House accompanied by Fred Barras, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at Norwich Crown Court in 2000 and was released in August of the following year.
Mr. Martin’s case provoked a national debate about the measures homeowners can take to defend their property.
Reflecting on how his life changed, Mr. Martin described being cast in people’s minds as a ‘man who wants to kill people’ and that he believed he was ‘a false man’.
He added: ‘When people see me they know me, but they don’t know me as a friend or acquaintance, they see me as the man who shot the burglar.
“They said I waited with a gun — I’ve had a gun since I was a kid. I don’t know a farmer who doesn’t have a gun.’
In 2018, Mr Martin revealed how intruders tried again to break into his run-down farmhouse, Bleak House in Emneth Hungate, where he hasn’t set foot since he killed Fred Barras.
He claimed that a ladder he found propped up against his old home was evidence that burglars had tried to get in and failed to get in.
The story of Mr Martin’s crime was dramatized in Channel 4’s The Interrogation, which was based on transcripts of police interviews with him.
Police at the crime scene in 2003, some four years after Fred Barras was shot dead. Officers had set up a mobile police station outside the farm in the wake of reported threats to the farmer’s life
Martin also injured Barras’ accomplice Brendon Fearon, 29, pictured in 1999 prior to his trial, with his unlicensed shotgun
The house is overgrown with ivy and windows and doors are covered with algae-colored steel shutters that the police have installed to keep out intruders
Mr Martin was portrayed in a Channel 4 dramatization by League of Gentleman star Steve Pemberton (left)
During his trial, prosecutors alleged that Martin booby-trapped his home and armed himself with an illegal weapon
Mr Martin was played in the drama by League of Gentleman star Steve Pemberton. It also starred Line of Duty’s Daniel Mays as the police officer interviewing him.
Prosecutors at Mr Martin’s trial portrayed him as an angry man, with a vendetta against burglars.
It was alleged that he booby-trapped his home and armed himself with an illegal weapon.
The jury rejected his claims of self-defense and agreed with prosecutors who said he shot the pair in cold blood.
Mr. Martin still works on his 300 acres of land on his farm, despite not setting foot on his farm for 19 years.
He said he has not ventured inside since the shooting because he fears he will “react violently if there is another break-in.”