ljms

Self Defence Against a Home Intruder

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ljms *    0

I was at my partner's house when one of his housemates comes running up the stairs shouting that an intruder has just walked in and was following her up. By the time I had jumped out of bed and come around from the confusion, he was stood at the top of the stairs chanting all sorts of nonsense, with his hands in his pockets.

I am an army reservist and had travelled to my partner's house straight from drill night, which I have every Tuesday. As part of my equipment I have a utility knife with a non-fixed blade. I immediately grabbed this and phoned 999 (it took quite a while to get through to the police unfortunately, budget cuts eh...) whilst warning him off. I kept the knife withdrawn but hidden so as to not escalate the situation if he indeed was armed; he was clearly high as a kite and mentally disturbed.

He eventually high-tailed it out of the house and attacked the front door for a few moments and then left. The police arrived fairly quickly and I jumped in their car and we found him further up the street, he got nicked; job done.

As I understand the law in relation to self-defence against intruders in your home, it must be reasonable (which makes zero sense to me, even as somebody who has done a law degree - it just doesn't make sense, to me, that the law isn't black and white in this situation... but that's a discussion for another day.) Thankfully, the law is on the side of the defender in situations such as these, largely.

As I understand the law, you cannot own anything with an intended use as a weapon for self defence or otherwise. Though, what is the law in relation to equipping household items and even, in my case, a potentially deadly weapon just in case you've got to defend yourself? For all I know, this guy (who the police later confirmed to be mentally disturbed and under the influence) could have had a knife, a needle or anything else. In this case, I would have to have acted in-order to defend myself and others. So... what would then have been reasonable? If he withdrew a deadly weapon, would I then be entitled to use lethal force?  Where would I stand in the eyes of the law? It is not owned for the purpose of being a weapon, I own it as it is part of my equipment and I had it with me as I had traveled from barracks to my partner's house.

I was absolutely not willing to wait and see what he had (if anything) or for something to happen before then choosing something to defend myself with. I see what I did as reasonable; to be awoken to screaming and shouting that someone has entered your home and is walking up the stairs, whilst chanting away to himself, throws up so many warning signs. 

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funkywingnut    245

Just to clarify, you took a knife to an incident, you had it in your hand (out of sight)?

Keeping in mind that the MoD do not authorise any service person to carry a knife in public or on a military establishment, any defence in relation to that is inaccurate. 

Instant arming is permissible, but thats not what you describe, given the fact you woke up had nob idea what was going on and decided to arm anyway doesn't justify that action. 

You can own many weapons, just not in a public place.  

Any use of force must be reasonable in the circumstance, it doesn't favour any side. 

Edited by funkywingnut

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kcl16    11

Do you mean a gerber type kit knife @ljms? If so to be fair a lot of service personnel have it stowed on their webbing.

He was in your partner's house so not a public domain. Not a massive deal methinks and that could be construed as reasonable force. You didn't shoot him in the back or anything. 

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PC Will    27

It's pretty simple really, in a nutshell:

You must not carry a weapon around with you, and proclaim you're keeping it for self-defense in case you get attacked, that isn't permissible.

You can pickup whatever is nearby to use as a weapon, knife, scaffolding pole, chair, table etc to use as a weapon but ONLY to defend yourself, and of course your actions must be reasonable.

For instance arming yourself with a knife because there's some bloke just insulting or swearing at you is hardly reasonable, however, arming yourself with a knife when there's a bloke running at you with a machete in hand would likely be deemed perfectly reasonable, and justifiable.

 

 

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HMService    179

Am I missing something here? He was inside a dwelling in bed. He hears that there is an intruder inside the house and feels threatened. He arms himself and confronts the intruder who makes off.

This absolutely was instant arming I'd suggest and the law in relation to carrying bladed articles or offensive weapons does not apply inside private places like this.

There are lots of concerns I have about choosing a knife to arm yourself with...If he had used it I am doubtful the level of force would have been deemed proportionate by a jury. But he didn't use it.

 

So my answer is..Yes, what you did was lawful and reasonable under the circumstances. I am not so sure it was wise however. Knives kill very easily. Not what you want used on you or to be using on anyone else unless your life is clearly immediately under threat.

 

HMS

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ljms *    0
On 9/8/2017 at 12:05, funkywingnut said:

Just to clarify, you took a knife to an incident, you had it in your hand (out of sight)?

Keeping in mind that the MoD do not authorise any service person to carry a knife in public or on a military establishment, any defence in relation to that is inaccurate. 

Instant arming is permissible, but thats not what you describe, given the fact you woke up had nob idea what was going on and decided to arm anyway doesn't justify that action. 

You can own many weapons, just not in a public place.  

Any use of force must be reasonable in the circumstance, it doesn't favour any side. 

I am sorry but I completely disagree with everything you've said there. The incident took place in a private dwellingplace where I was sleeping; I picked up the closest thing I could have used for self defence. I did not pick up a knife and walk towards a fight. Furthermore, this is a non-locking bladed article with a length of under 3 inches. The military kit list includes a knife of the aforementioned nature and we are recommended to have one with whilst undertaking military training. A drill night (which I had attended the night prior, hence why I had the knife with me) forms part of the military training syllabus for reservists. 

I had a very clear idea what was going on! The first sentence I wrote in this thread states "... one of his housemates comes running up the stairs shouting that an intruder has just walked in and was following her up the stairs." How does that not justify arming oneself? Especially when I could hear this particular guy chanting nonsense away to himself. 

A dwellinghouse is not a public place. 

It really would help if you read things properly. 

 

On 9/8/2017 at 21:32, kcl16 said:

Do you mean a gerber type kit knife @ljms? If so to be fair a lot of service personnel have it stowed on their webbing.

He was in your partner's house so not a public domain. Not a massive deal methinks and that could be construed as reasonable force. You didn't shoot him in the back or anything. 

That's right.

 

On 9/9/2017 at 13:03, PC Will said:

It's pretty simple really, in a nutshell:

You must not carry a weapon around with you, and proclaim you're keeping it for self-defense in case you get attacked, that isn't permissible.

You can pickup whatever is nearby to use as a weapon, knife, scaffolding pole, chair, table etc to use as a weapon but ONLY to defend yourself, and of course your actions must be reasonable.

For instance arming yourself with a knife because there's some bloke just insulting or swearing at you is hardly reasonable, however, arming yourself with a knife when there's a bloke running at you with a machete in hand would likely be deemed perfectly reasonable, and justifiable.

 

 

The knife isn't kept for self-defence, I only carry it to / from military duties. Cheers for the reply!

 

On 9/26/2017 at 00:11, HMService said:

Am I missing something here? He was inside a dwelling in bed. He hears that there is an intruder inside the house and feels threatened. He arms himself and confronts the intruder who makes off.

This absolutely was instant arming I'd suggest and the law in relation to carrying bladed articles or offensive weapons does not apply inside private places like this.

There are lots of concerns I have about choosing a knife to arm yourself with...If he had used it I am doubtful the level of force would have been deemed proportionate by a jury. But he didn't use it.

 

So my answer is..Yes, what you did was lawful and reasonable under the circumstances. I am not so sure it was wise however. Knives kill very easily. Not what you want used on you or to be using on anyone else unless your life is clearly immediately under threat.

 

HMS

I understand that it's not the best thing to arm yourself with, but it's all I could have used. I was essentially backed into a corner. Short of bludgeoning him with my boots, there was nothing else I could've done if I were attacked. However, when you're aware there's an intruder following a housemate up the stairs, chanting jibberish (and then when you finally have sight of him, he's got his hands in his pockets) what else can you do?

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HMService    179

Not an easy situation I agree.

The problem is....He tries to slap you or push you over or makes a grab for the hand with the knife in it....What do you do? Slash? Stab somewhere hopefully non vital? punch with the other hand against his two?

It isn't going to end well.

Personally if you don't know what the level of the threat is, a deadly weapon should not be in play until it can be justified. I'm assuming having just jumped out of bed you didn't have a pocket to put it in, so personally I would have left it behind. If he had a weapon then I would have retreated and armed myself and called the Police. I would have stayed out of any confrontation until it was forced. Another factor that will stand you in good stead if you find yourself charged with manslaughter. All easy to say in hindsight and assuming you aren't instantly attacked I know but stabbing some mentally ill intruder to death is an end result that will not leave your life unchanged either.

I have a Nidan in Jiu-Jitsu and am a self defence instructor and have been training to defend myself against knives for over twenty five years. I know enough to be seriously afraid.

There is an old amusing but accurate adage that the loser of a knife fight dies at the scene while the winner dies in the ambulance. Just don't is my advice. If you get backed into a corner then all rules are off but that's not what you did. Glad it all turned out ok for you though!

 

HMS

Edited by HMService
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funkywingnut    245
20 hours ago, ljms said:

I am sorry but I completely disagree with everything you've said there. The incident took place in a private dwellingplace where I was sleeping; I picked up the closest thing I could have used for self defence. I did not pick up a knife and walk towards a fight. Furthermore, this is a non-locking bladed article with a length of under 3 inches. The military kit list includes a knife of the aforementioned nature and we are recommended to have one with whilst undertaking military training. A drill night (which I had attended the night prior, hence why I had the knife with me) forms part of the military training syllabus for reservists. 

I had a very clear idea what was going on! The first sentence I wrote in this thread states "... one of his housemates comes running up the stairs shouting that an intruder has just walked in and was following her up the stairs." How does that not justify arming oneself? Especially when I could hear this particular guy chanting nonsense away to himself. 

A dwellinghouse is not a public place. 

It really would help if you read things properly. 

 

That's right.

 

The knife isn't kept for self-defence, I only carry it to / from military duties. Cheers for the reply!

 

I understand that it's not the best thing to arm yourself with, but it's all I could have used. I was essentially backed into a corner. Short of bludgeoning him with my boots, there was nothing else I could've done if I were attacked. However, when you're aware there's an intruder following a housemate up the stairs, chanting jibberish (and then when you finally have sight of him, he's got his hands in his pockets) what else can you do?

You can disagree all you want, but I don't see how you can claim instant arming with a knife when you were in a different room and you cannot say that just because someone is shouting that at that time you feared imminent violence, unless he did something else that made you believe this?  I cannot see how you could have justified using a knife, even more so as there was no suggestion the intruder had a weapon of any sort.  There would also have to be some understanding of what else you could have used as its difficult to believe that there was nothing else you could have used in the room that would have been less likely to cause significant injury. 

I will take the offensive weapon reference on the chin for not reading properly. 

A reservist drill night, unless undertaking field duties doesn't warrant a knife being carried, I have never seen any Army recommendation a knife be carried beyond a field phase, in fact most regular units have orders to exactly the opposite effect and the Army do not make any suggestion you should carry a knife to and from duty in any manner. Most reserve units have lockers etc for you to store military kit.  Maybe you were conducting field exercises and thats why, maybe you don't have any storage space at the reserve centre, I don't know, I just can't see the relevance to a reservist drill night. 

You make the comment "I understand that it's not the best thing to arm yourself with, but it's all I could have used. I was essentially backed into a corner. Short of bludgeoning him with my boots, there was nothing else I could've done if I were attacked" and it reads like there was no actual attack, maybe at the time it felt different, thats the beauty of the subjective and objective test in relation to such defences. I just don't see it as instant arming as allowed in law. 

In truth only you can say if you felt it necessary from the subjective angle, but as an objective person who may have been assessing this, I wouldn't be content you needed to arm yourself in such a way. With all that said, I don't envy you. 

@HMService raises very good points, you brought a deadly weapon to a situation raising the risk far beyond what the intruder was presenting. There is no winner to a knife fight and anyone who tells you they are skilled in knife defence is either overconfident or a liar, because you fight a knife and you will always get cut, that includes if you bring the knife. 

 

PS: Thanks for the debate, we may not see eye to eye but I still respect your interpretation and opinion. 

Edited by funkywingnut

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