Kenneth Batchelor, fired a shotgun at “very close quarters” to 42-year-old Matthew Clements, after Clements had climbed the scaffolding of Batchelor's home to try to force open an upstairs window.
The jury at Maidstone Crown Court took just one hour to unanimously acquit Mr Batchelor of the murder of Mr Clements, from Ashford in Kent, who was “well known” to police, had settled disputes by violence and had once turned up at a garage to threaten the manager with an Uzi submachine gun.
Mr Batchelor, legally owned the shotgun which killed Mr Clements with one shot to the chest, and told the court that it had discharged accidentally as he stood terrified at a top floor window which Mr Clements was trying to open.
“In the circumstances, Mr Batchelor was entitled to defend himself and his property. You will hear Mr Batchelor told police the shotgun was discharged by accident in the heat of events.
“The case enters that very difficult area – the degree to which a householder can use violence to defend himself.
“What is reasonable and what is unreasonable; what goes over the line, what doesn’t go over the line. It is for the jury to decide where the line should be drawn and what is reasonable in response to a threat.”
Following the verdict, Judge Jeremy Carey said:
“No-one should draw any conclusions of a general kind on this case. This defendant has been acquitted of the charge of murder, each case depends upon its own merits."