Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Assault and Self-Defence

Did you know that if you touch someone this may be termed as an assault? I don't think you would get very far in court if you said someone touched you in a packed train but as a physiotherapist I was always careful to give an explanation of what I wanted to do and why and then say "is that alright?". Many years ago I was on a course about the law and physiotherapy and the motto that I remember is a smile a day keeps the lawyer away. I thought it was good advice.

You do hear stories about those who use self-defence and find that they end up in court. It is over ten years since Tony Martin shot and killed a burglar but he certainly stood out as a victim ending up in prison. The trouble was that self-defence has to be with the use of reasonable force. So if the burglar ends up dead then force may not have been reasonable.

Yesterday Benjamin Netanyahu was defending his forces robustly for their assault on the Gaza flotilla in May. The trouble was that of the nine deaths none were Israeli. I don't know if you saw local reports of the aid workers who were helping on the flotilla but if you gave one a stick and matched them against an Israeli commando I would put my money on the latter.

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  1. Tony Martin shot at the burglars as they were fleeing his property. He had used legitimate self-defence to scare them off, but then went too far by shooting one dead *as he ran away*.

    That's certainly not reasonable.

  2. I didn't mean to suggest that Tony Martin was innocent so thanks for pointing that out Anonymous. However there were aspects of the case that made it look like he was a victim.

  3. The trouble is, when you talk of "reasonable force", do you have any idea what that entails? The term is cooked up by lawyers and politicians in the safe haven of a meeting room where the greatest danger is running our of biscuits. I sat on the governing council of the Martial Arts Commission for three years, and not once in that time did a politician, policeman, magistrate, or lawyer contact us for expert advice on the realities of self defence. Have you ever been in a real fight for your life? Has your life ever been in imminent danger? If not, you cannot talk on this subject any more than you can offer advice on brain surgery. As for Tony Martin, I think what he did was perfectly acceptable. It's a principle called the "thousand armed Buddha". Take out one now to make his clan of thieving violent burglars of what will happen if they ever return, thus actually savign lives in the long run.
    And remember, you have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to self defence, even though this fact is not recognised under unjust and corrupt British law.

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful contribution Kimpatsu. I would disagree with the notion that advice cannot be offered to others "tie your shoelaces brain surgeon" and that we cannot have an opinion without experience. Are you suggesting that our judges should be criminals? I don't think so. I accept your opinion and I hope you accept mine.