Father kills burglar to protect family

Edwin Pitkin faced what must be any family man’s worst fear, someone breaking into the house in the middle of the night, whilst his wife and kids are asleep upstairs.

pitkinES2504_415x275 Unbeknownst to Pitkin, the man breaking in was actually his neighbour who had accidentally ended up at the wrong house, and believing it was his own, was trying to break in.

Fearing, and rightly so, that the intruder meant to harm him or his family, Pitkin armed himself with a knife and tackled the intruder, a Mr Mark Woods.

Woods, who’d been on a 12 hour bender, somehow became confused and mistook Pitkin’s house for his own, and when he couldn’t get in he tried to break in. When challenged by Pitkin, Woods must have assumed that Pitkin had broken into his house and was in the process of robbing him. In another sad testament to the break down of the traditional British community, neither man recognised the other, despite being neighbours. A fight broke out and Woods was fatally stabbed.

A tragic accident, but as Rene Barclay of the CPS rightly said:

“We have to take account of the circumstances as Mr Pitkin believed them to be. We therefore concluded that there was no realistic prospect of conviction in this case because there was insufficient evidence to establish Mark Woods was unlawfully killed.”

Pitkin did what he was entitled to do by law, protect himself, his family and his property. Woods, in his drunken state had apparently become aggressive and would no doubt have caused injury to Pitkin had he not been armed.

It is gratifying to hear that the CPS will not be pursuing charges against Pitkin in this regrettable incident. An Englishman’s home is his castle and he should have the right to defend it, and his family, anyway that he can.

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2 responses to “Father kills burglar to protect family

  1. richard chandler

    We the family of Mark are concerned the CPS do not have the full facts and want to be sure they have considered all aspects of this case and, if they did have all the facts, for them to explain their decision.
    Your press release states that a person is entitled to use reasonable force in the circumstances in the defence of themselves, others, their property or to prevent a crime. I would dispute the assumption that the force used was reasonable in the circumstances and that Mark was any serious threat to the Pitkins, and that by the time Pitkin went outside, he was fully aware of that.
    The police have told us that this case is unique – they have never known one like it and for that reason we believe it is in the public interest to test what constitutes self-defence in these circumstances.
    Questions:
    1. Did Mr Pitkin or his wife’s statements not say that he shouted at Mark through the door that he did not live there? If so, he clearly knew before going outside that Mark was not a burglar, was not intending to commit a crime and was basically a nuisance who had got the wrong house. Was it therefore reasonable for him to leave the house to confront Mark with a kitchen knife?

    2. Are you aware that Mr Pitkin, armed with a kitchen knife, opened not one but two doors to confront my brother? Did you not consider that this was not the action of someone who was terrified but of someone who was angry at having been disturbed?
    • What advice was given by the police during the 999 call? Have you heard the tape – was the advice followed?
    • Were you aware that there were bolts on the inside of the door which Mr Pitkin could have used if he was concerned that Mark could get in?
    • Wouldn’t it have been more reasonable for Mr Pitkin to stay inside and wait for the police to arrive? Isn’t that what they would have been told to do?

    3. Pitkin’s wife’s statement differs from his on several issues. She states that she did not see a knife yet we know he had one. She also says that Mark threatened to kill him whereas Mr Pitkin does not say that.
    • What do you make of the discrepancies between them?
    • Could she have been trying to defend her husband by not being completely truthful?
    • Shouldn’t she be examined in the witness box to test this?

    3. What inference did you draw from Mr Pitkin’s refusal to answer questions? Isn’t it usual for those who are innocent to want to explain themselves? Isn’t it true that his lawyer would have known that the dead can’t defend themselves and therefore he could get away with murder if he kept quiet? A jury should have the opportunity to draw their own conclusions from his silence.

    4. What drew you to the conclusion that Mr Pitkin was elderly and vulnerable? Were you not made aware that he is a well-built professional builder?
    • Have you seen the CCTV of the incident?
    • Were you aware that the altercation between them lasted for up to 5 minutes and in that time Mr Pitkin was able to both pull Mark away from the door and push him out of the garden and that he was able to push Mark to the floor? Is this the action of an elderly and vulnerable man?????
    • Does this suggest someone who was reasonably justified in using deadly force?
    • Did you not consider that, during this prolonged altercation, when Mark did not do any physical harm to Mr Pitkin whatsoever, the most reasonable course of action would have been to retreat inside?
    • Were you aware that the Pitkins bedroom was at the front of the house and it is a bow window overlooking the front door? Why did the Pitkins not look and shout through the window in complete safety? Have the police asked Mrs Pitkin this and if so what was her response?
    • Were other neighbours interviewed?
    • There is only Mr Pitkin’s statement that Mark threatened him with his keys, which is not corroborated by his wife or neighbours. Even if Mark, who in your words was VERY drunk did threaten to stab Pitkin with his keys, was it reasonable to stab Mark with a kitchen knife in response? Surely a set of house keys are not life threatening and the fact that Mr Pitkin sustained no injuries show that Mark had no intention of harming him? Allow a jury to decide whether Pitkins build and strength was capable of pushing a very drunk man away from him and retreating behind a locked & bolted front door. He knew the police were on their way.

    5. The neighbour’s statement says that he heard raised voices. What did you deduce Mr Pitkin’s demeanour was during the altercation? I ask because this is relevant to intent.
    • Was he aggressive or trying to calm the situation?
    • He was, of course, holding a knife. Did he threaten my brother with it before he killed him?
    • Couldn’t he be seen as the one who was being confrontational by having left the house carrying a knife?
    6. The police have quoted to us several times the law about intruders and self-defence yet Mark did not enter the Pitkin’s home and was not trying to break in as Mr Pitkin knew by the time he confronted Mark. There was no damage to Pitkins door or property whatsoever. How, then, is this being used as a reason for Pitkins defence of self-defence to be accepted without question?
    7. Is it not true that “A householder will not be prosecuted if he injures or even kills an intruder or mugger provided “reasonable force” is used. He must show he feared immediate attack, had no escape and the response must be proportionate to the threat. Are you sure that these conditions are met?
    8. What part did Mark’s past play in your decision? Why?

    9. We are told by the police, quite specifically, that Pitkin had no criminal record. Have the police made you aware of any previous incidents involving Pitkin, that did not lead to a prosecution?

    10. The evidential test in this case is being used to avoid justice. The fact that Mr Pitkin undoubtedly killed my brother, that he has refused to answer questions under caution and the circumstances leading up to my brother’s death in which Mr Pitkin left the safety of his home to confront my brother with a knife, gives enough cause for doubt as to his motives and should be tested in front of a jury. This case is also in the public interest to decide what constitutes self-defence when the person killed has not committed a crime and the person who killed him has put himself into the confrontational situation which led to the killing.

    11. If, despite the above, you decide not to charge Pitkin can we appeal that decision to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Independant Police Complaints Commision?
    I would now like to make a few comments which are based on the legal and evidential threshold tests that you should follow when making a decision to prosecute.

    We understand that the police could not prove Pitkin’s state of mind because of his refusal to answer questions. We also understand that the prosecution must prove an intention to kill or cause grievous bodily harm in a murder charge and we have been told by the police that this ‘evidential’ threshold was therefore not met.

    Is it not the case though that a jury, properly directed by the judge can draw such inferences of an accused’s intentions from all the circumstances of the case and reach their own conclusion? If so, why wasn’t this case put before a jury to decide on his true intentions rather than have it decided by yourselves?

    If you still consider a murder charge as inappropriate, what were your reasons for not charging Pitkin with ‘unlawful killing’? Is there not a prima facie case that Pitkin over- reacted, lost his temper, behaved in a reckless and dangerous manner and caused the death of my brother by sticking a knife through his heart?
    Yes and surely it can only be yes, then why not let a jury try him for manslaughter and test his written claim, cleverly drafted by his solicitor that this was ‘reasonable’ self defence?

  2. Thank you for commenting. I have to admit that I am not sure how to take this comment. Is it from a press release from the family of Mark Woods? If so I have been unable to find any information about it anywhere else.

    It does however raise some interesting points and certainly gives a different slant on things. The article that I linked to and the CPS website were where I got all the information about the incident and based the subsequent blog post on and I realise now that a lot was based on assumptions about what was said by the CPS.

    For example I assumed that Mr Woods was stabbed in the doorway to Mr Pitkin’s home, not outside. I also assumed that the stabbing occurred because Woods had forced himself in, not because Pitkin had gone outside to confront Woods.

    I am sure that there is more to this incident than is currently apparent, after all looking at a picture of street I am not sure how Woods could have mistaken Pitkin’s home for his own, even in the dark.

    Of course I have no way of knowing where the information in the comment comes from but it certainly does make me wonder as to whether this was the open and shut case that the CPS seemed to imply that it was.

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