This post is for readers who missed my interview on Radio Q 102 on 7th August 2007.(Like Cicero, I take the oppourtunity to say what I would like to have said, as opposed to what I said).
Q. WHAT RIGHT OF SELF DEFENCE HAS A HOUSEHOLDER WHEN CONFRONTED BY A BURGLAR?
A. The right is found in Section 18 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997.
Q. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE PROPOSAL OF MR. McDOWELL THAT THE PROSECUTION HAVE THE BURDEN OF PROVING USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE BY A HOUSEHOLDER?
A. That is the burden on a prosecutor currently. Generally, a prosecutor must prove everything; a defendant need prove nothing. The Court of Criminal Appeal, in DPP v Barnes (December 2006) stipulated that, whatever the law in Ireland prior to the adoption of the Constitution, it is not lawful, in Ireland, to kill a burglar qua burglar.
Q. WHAT IF THE HOUSEHOLDER SETS HIS DOG ON THE BURGLAR AND THE DOG KILLS THE BURGLAR?
A. Some dog! If it qualifies for criminal legal aid I will represent it. Generally speaking it is not sensible to talk of attacking burglars, especially in cases of old people encountering them. By analogy, we have an unarmed police force because if the police were armed more police would be injured accidentally in the locker room than by criminals.