Munir Hussain – a latter-day Tony Martin

Hussain_2_659646a I have written before about the liberties and freedoms of the law-abiding majority, a theme touched on more recently by Dylan.  In that vein, the case of Munir Hussain is on my mind today.

Like Tony Martin, Mr Hussain is a man charged with harming those who broke into his home.  This was no common or garden burglary.  When the Hussains returned home from the Mosque, three masked men awaited them in their house.  They tied up Munir Hussain's family and degraded them.  The children must have been terrified for their lives, and the parents – including this defendant – must have suffered that worst of agonies, the fear that one's child is to suffer and, perhaps, to die.

Hussain fought them off and chased them and seriously injured one of them with a cricket bat.  He has now been sentenced to 30 months imprisonment.

If he not had that adrenalin, that admirable, channelled aggression, he would not have been able to fight these men off and whatever they had planned for him and his wife and children would have been done to them.  It is that adrenalin and aggression, aroused entirely by this most ugly of actions from his "victim" and accomplices, which led Hussain to chase them out and to strike them.

My question is this.  Should the benefit of the doubt not rest with a man in his situation, grievously provoked and genuinely in fear for his life and the lives of his children?  I accept that there are points beyond which we are not entitled to go, even when severely provoked.  You are not entitled to tie up the burglar you catch in your house and torture him.  But nothing in Hussain's behaviour seems to have been calculated or planned – it was a spur of the moment reaction to the invasion of his home by a gang of masked men and my instinct is to say, in choosing that path that gang took the risk of having what happened, happen.

I understand that he is to appeal.  We will watch with interest.

By Alex Deane

Posted by on Dec 16, 2009 in Home | 8 Comments


  1. Alan Anderson
    16th December 2009

    I agree that torturing them would be sufficiently deliberate that it should attract criminal liability. Beating the burglar with a bat clearly should not. In fact, I would go a little further: even had he inadvertently beaten the man to death, no criminal liability should result. “Reasonable force”, in the circumstances of fighting off a gang of masked men who invaded your house and tied up your family, goes a very long way in my view.
    What is frustrating is that even as the courts protect the state’s theoretical monopoly on violence ever more jealously against vigilante infringements, the police force becomes ever less vigorous in upholding the state’s side of the bargain – using that monopoly to protect citizens’ from harm.

  2. Edward
    16th December 2009

    We all take risks that could lead to our being victims of illegal activity. It’s one thing to make a criminal defence about diminished rationality; it’s a very different thing for the law to say “the bad men got what was coming to them”. To take an example from civil law, I take a risk that I will be the victim of negligence every time I walk onto the street (which at the moment is cold, and there’s a leaky pipe, so I might slip on some ice). Should we abolish the relevant parts of the law of tort with that in mind? I can come up with criminal law examples but that one worries me more at the moment…

  3. Kynon
    16th December 2009

    This is a tricky one, in my opinion. Was Hussain correct in chasing down the intruders, and catching one of them? Yes. Would he have been right to give him a bit of a shoeing before the police arrive? Probably.
    Was it right for he & his brother to grab weapons & beat the apprehended intruder to pieces? Probably not.
    There are plenty of things to consider here, notwithstanding whether or not Mr Hussain felt in immediate fear of his life, and that of his family: Where do you draw the line regarding the immediacy of that threat? Where do you draw the line regarding reasonable force?
    If Hussain had hit the intruder with a weapon in his home & said intruder had ended up in the same condition, then I’d like to think that this would have met with a more lenient response from jury & judge, but the fact that he chased him off down the street then beat the snot out of him crosses the line, to me.

  4. Marcellus
    16th December 2009

    One sees a madness affecting all public life.
    All this is done in our name and we can influence none of it.
    The legacy of the Left.

  5. richard
    16th December 2009

    i think that in this case the householder stepped outside the law and used unreasonable force. the robber was helpless on the ground and there was no need to beat him to a pulp. i have no sympathy for robbers and on one occasion i stopped a burglary attempt on my property by pulling back the hammer on my gun, which was unloaded. that sound did the trick, they scarpered. firing at at an unarmed man would have been murder. likewise, in the case mentioned above, the robber had fled, the immediate threat to the householder’s life and property had been dealt with, and the consequent action was disproportionate in my opinion.

  6. Edward
    16th December 2009

    “Hussain … enlisted his brother Tokeer, 35, in chasing the offenders down the street in High Wycombe … Walid Salem, one of the intruders, suffered a permanent brain injury after he was struck with a cricket bat so hard that it broke into three pieces. Neighbours saw several men beating Salem with weapons, including a metal pole.”
    This feeds into a worrying message about the use of force on this blog: “admirable” if it’s vigilantes, 1984-style evil if it’s police.

  7. Le Chiffre
    17th December 2009

    And what role did CCTV play in all this? It certainly didn’t prevent the crimes committed. Did it perhaps provide evidence to be used at trial and if it did do the authorities think it was worthwhile diverting such massive resources for that purpose?