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Criminal Law: Man cleared of stabbing burglar to death in self defence

In the third case of its kind in Greater Manchester in recent months, a man arrested on suspicion of murder during an alleged burglary has been released without charge.

Vincent Cooke, 39, from Bramhall, Stockport, was at home alone when Raymond Jacob, 37, entered his house and held Mr Cooke at knifepoint.

Mr Cooke claimed that he struggled with the intruder and in doing so fatally stabbed Mr Jacob.

Mr Cooke's wife Karen and their 12-year-old son returned home during the struggle.

The chief crown prosecutor for the North West are, Nazir Afzal, said: "At the time [Mr Cooke] was in fear for his own safety and the safety of his wife and son, who arrived at the house as the incident was happening."

He concluded, "It is clear to me that Mr Cooke did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary on that day to protect himself, his home and his family from intruders."

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled that Mr Cooke acted in "reasonable self defence".

Another man, Michael Anthony Thorpe, 33, was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary in connection with the incident. He is in custody awaiting trial in December.

Mr Cooke was not charged with murder but the incident has badly affected him and his family as they have had to move away from their home.

Mr Cooke said: "It has been a living nightmare for me and my family and I'm still suffering flashbacks of the incident. I'm most relieved that the CPS has decided not to charge me with any offence. I hope now to be able to get on with my life, but will never forget the day that I had to fight for my life."

Another two cases occurred earlier this year involving aggravated burglaries. In July, Peter Flanagan, 59, was arrested on suspicion of murdering suspected burglar John Leonard Bennell, 27, who broke into Mr Flanagan's home in Salford with three other masked men.

The CPS ruled that, in stabbing Mr Bennell to death, Mr Flanagan had used "reasonable force".

The other incident which took place in Old Trafford involved 72-year-old shopkeeper Cecil Coley. He was arrested after Gary Mullings, 30, suffered fatal wounds in Mr Coley's florists. The CPS again ruled that no charges should be brought against Mr Coley.

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
Read 'Self defence or violent crime?' (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)