Tim Lambert has finally responded to my last salvo in the “Self Defense” exchange, and it’s a pretty good piece, too. Unoriginally titled Gullible Gunners, episode IV, Tim makes a good case that not all cases of self-defense that we “gullible gunners” point to, actually are. But, once again, Tim misses my point.
I’m going to make this post remarkably short (for me, especially on this topic.) Tim concludes his piece by attempting to refute the example I gave in my last entry on this topic. Tim writes:
Finally we turn to Brett Osborn. Baker claims that this is a case of the government prosecuting someone for an obvious case of self defence. Like all the killers who were convicted he stabbed the victim in the back. This doesn’t sound he was defending himself, but there were others present so he could have been defending them; we just don’t know for sure. In any event, it certainly isn’t an obvious case of self-defence. In this case we don’t know what the jury thought of the evidence because Osborn chose to plead guilty to manslaughter. Why?
Osborn decided that he could not face the risk of life imprisonment. “You see it in the paper,” Osborn has said, “that bloke Tony Martin who shot the kid who was burgling his house. He went to prison for years.
Osborn mistakenly believed that Martin had been convicted despite acting in self-defence. And the reason why he believed that was because of the activities of the “Tony Martin is innocent brigade(sic)”. If Osborn was really acting in self-defence then the jury would have acquitted him but Osborn was unsure of this because of people like Baker who argue that self-defence is legally risky in England. As a result Baker is now in jail.
I assure you, I’m not in jail. Regardless of how much some would like to see me there!
The law and the results of the cases seem clear. Self-defence in Britain is lawful. There may be some chilling effect on people because of fear of being convicted for self-defence, but the people responsible for that are on Baker’s side of the question.
Not entirely, Tim.
Not even mostly.
Tim didn’t comment on the judge’s statement in that case:
Judge Shirley Anwyl QC said that she accepted that Halling could have been perceived to be “dangerous to others”. But she added: “With hindsight it is clear that Halling was presenting no real danger to anyone but himself.”
Yet hindsight – under English Law – isn’t supposed to factor in. What the defendant actually believed at the time – regardless of the accuracy of that belief – IS.
“By your plea you have accepted that you intended real serious injury. Your use of violence was not wholly unpremeditated in that you did equip yourself with at least one knife. She added: “I am in no doubt about your genuine remorse and your appreciation of the appalling effect that the killing of Halling has and continues to have on his relatives and friends.”
But she sentenced him to five years in jail for it.
Nor did Tim comment on the statement of Osborne’s lawyer:
“The law,” explains Harry Potter, the barrister who, with Charles Bott, would defend Osborn, “does not require the intention to kill for a prosecution for murder to succeed. All that is required is an intention to cause serious bodily harm. That intention can be fleeting and momentary. But if it is there in any form at all for just a second – that is, if the blow you struck was deliberate rather than accidental – you can be guilty of murder and spend the rest of your life in prison.”Moreover,” Mr Potter continues, “while self-defence is a complete defence to a charge of murder, the Court of Appeal has ruled that if the force you use is not judged to have been reasonable – if a jury, that is, decides it was disproportionate – then you are guilty of murder. A conviction for murder automatically triggers the mandatory life sentence. There are no exceptions.”
I pointed out to Tim that here in the States had someone like Mr. Halling forced himself into a home and been shot by the homeowner for it, said homeowner wouldn’t have faced prosecution regardless of the direction of the bullet travel, as Mr. Osborne would have been defending not only himself, but the other residents of the house. There would have been no question that, in arming oneself and shooting at a home invader, serious injury was the intent, but here that’s generally OK. In England it holds a serious risk of prosecution.
The law in England saw fit to charge Mr. Osborne with murder for stabbing Mr. Halling. He was at real risk of being convicted for it. Tim holds more faith in the jury than I do.
Draw your own conclusion. I know what mine is. The “chilling effect” is real – something I’m glad Tim admits to. The people responsible for the “chilling effect” are on the side of the State. The ones on my side simply recognize it, and are trying to mitigate it here.