Gang raids could lead to self defence says Martin

PUBLISHED: 17:33 19 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:03 28 May 2010

Tony Martin

Tony Martin

EXCLUSIVE THE Fenland farmer jailed for shooting dead a burglar today said he feared a repeat of his case, as police stepped up the hunt for an armed gang terrorising the Fens. Tony Martin, who killed teenage burglar Fred Barras and wounded his accomplice

EXCLUSIVE

THE Fenland farmer jailed for shooting dead a burglar today said he feared a repeat of his case, as police stepped up the hunt for an armed gang terrorising the Fens.

Tony Martin, who killed teenage burglar Fred Barras and wounded his accomplice Brendan Fearon in 1999, warned worried residents might be tempted to take steps to protect themselves.

Masked men brandishing shotguns have carried out raids on homes in Nordelph, Stowbridge, North Runcton, Upwell, Elm and Wereham in the space of a week.

They escaped with a safe containing a large quantity of cash from one property but have fled empty-handed from others. A gun was fired in two of the attacks, shooting out the windows of one property while children were inside.

A 25-strong team of detectives, including officers from Norfolk's Major Investigation Team are leading the hunt for the gang, who senior detectives describe as desperate and dangerous.

The enquiry, led by Det Insp mark Beresford, has become one of the force's top priorities because of the considerable level of weaponry used.

Mr Martin let fly with a pump action shotgun after burglars broke into his remote farmhouse at Emneth Hungate, near Wisbech.

He was found guilty of murder of intruder Fred Barras, but the conviction was later overturned on appeal, while the case sparked a national debate over householders rights to defend their properties.

Last night Mr Martin said: "This gang have got a suicide wish, they don't know what is waiting for them when they attack a house. They do not know what is going to happen when they go to a house and how people do not know how they are going to react in those circumstances."

"We have not known anything like this, people are amazed at it. People do not know what will happen, I didn't know, unfortunately no-one does, you just don't know what you are going to do in a situation like that."

Last night patrols were being stepped up in villages which have been targeted by the gang. An ANPR - automatic number plate recognition - camera has also been deployed.

"The investigation is in full swing with officers working on a number of lines of enquiry," a spokesman said. "Extra police patrols are in place and the Force ANPR Team deployed to the west of the county in support of the policing operation.

"Safer Neighbourhoods officers will be carrying out public reassurance work in the coming days but if people do have concerns they should contact them directly on 0845 456 4567.

"A number of members of the public have called in with information as a result of the media coverage. We would still appeal for anyone with information about the dark, possible maroon/Vauxhall Vectra or similar vehicle to contact us or with information about those responsible."

Police believe the men may be part of the same family and have used a maroon Vauxhall Vectra or Cavalier as a getaway car.

Officers were on the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised after a property in Wereham was raided on Monday night, but the gang got away.

Detectives believe the gang could have driven away from the scene with the lights of their car turned off - meaning they could know the farm tracks and by roads around villages they have targeted.

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