Opinion: Tragedy (Stoning an intruder on your property)

POSTED: 02/2/12 2:24 PM

Imagine this. You arrive home around midnight and you spot somebody near a bedroom window. It’s dark out there and by the time you get out of your car the figure has disappeared in the bushes. You have been the victim of burglaries three times in the past. On those occasions you called the police, but you did not get the help or the assistance you expected.
So that’s why you decide to take matters into your own hands. You call out to the unknown character that is hiding in the bushes – by all standards already a courageous act that borders on stupidity. With all the stuff that is going on in criminal circles, most people would just turn their car around and take off.
But no, you’ve had enough and you want to establish your authority on your property. So you call out, and when nobody shows, you start pelting the bushes with stones. In the case at hand, the home-owner – upset, worried and desperate – fires around twenty stone cannon balls at the bushes. When still nobody comes out, he calls the police.
This time, a patrol shows up. And what do officers find when they investigate the bushes? An unconscious woman with serious head wounds. Later it turns out that the woman is a psychiatric patient.
She will later tell police officers that she was afraid and that this is why she hid in the bushes. And no, she had not been in the process of breaking into the house.
The home-owner tells the police that he, too, was afraid. How could he know who was hiding in the bushes? There was no way to tell.
The woman is carted off to the hospital. Unconscious and seriously injured, she recovers over time. The home-owner, who was at first angry, afraid and upset, is now really upset. Had he known that is was a woman with a psychiatric disorder hiding in his bushes, he would have never thrown all those stones at her. He probably would have helped the lady.
But it’s too late for that. The home-owner gets dragged into court and the prosecutor demands 9 months imprisonment and payment of close to $4,300 in damages. The judge arrives at a different conclusion. The home-owner’s actions are understandable, she riles, and he had the right to defend his property. That this had such dire consequences is irrelevant.
The story does not end there, because the family of the victim submitted a claim for damages to the tune of almost $8,300.
Guess what they claimed. The family went to eat out for months, because their family member was in hospital and she was not available to cook for them. They also hired a cleaner, because the victim was for quite some time not available to clean the house. It was a well documented claim, with receipts for all the outdoor dining and for the cleaning lady they had hired.
This is the real tragedy: the victim has recuperated and is back home. We do not know the family, but we figure that they are now using their family member, who has psychiatric disorder, as a slave in the kitchen and as a slave for house-cleaning. At least, that is the impression the family made by claiming these damages.
There is of course another side to this story: the lady could very well be happy doing all this cooking and cleaning. These activities give her days meaning and the family is happy that it won’t have to eat out anymore.
Here is however another tragedy. There were of course some real damages, and the prosecution asked the court to award the family something like $4,300. That won’t happen, because the court dropped the prosecution of the home-owner. He will not be sentenced for causing the psychiatric patient grievous bodily harm. But a consequence of this court ruling is that the claim for damages was also dismissed.
The family is now forced to go to civil court and attempt to get at least some financial satisfaction there. We advise them to leave the receipts out for wining, dining, and cleaning. With the rest, we wish them good luck and all the best.

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