- Dec 11, 2005
- Seren?sima Rep?blica de California
- 1997 BMW 528i
Homeowner Munir Hussain jailed for attacking burglars who tied up family
December 14, 2009
A businessman who fought off knife-wielding thugs who were threatening to kill his family has been jailed for 30 months, while his attackers avoided a jail sentence.
The case, compared to that of Tony Martin, jailed after he shot dead a teenage burglar at his farmhouse in 2000, has prompted debate over the level of force that householders can legitimately use to defend themselves.
Munir Hussain and his wife and three children returned from their local mosque during Ramadan to find three intruders, wearing balaclavas, in their home.
The family members? hands were tied behind their backs and they were forced to crawl from room to room. Hussain, chairman of the Asian Business Council, was told that he would be killed, but made his escape after throwing a coffee table and enlisted his brother Tokeer in chasing the offenders down the street in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, bringing one of them to the ground.
What followed was described in Reading Crown Court as self-defence that went too far, leaving intruder Walid Salem with a permanent brain injury after he was struck with a cricket bat so hard that it broke into three pieces. Neighbours saw several men beating Salem with weapons including a metal pole.
Salem was the only intruder caught after the incident on September 3, 2008, but his injuries meant he was not fit to plead after being charged with false imprisonment.
Salem, who has a string of 50 past convictions, was given a two-year supervision order at a court hearing in September this year. He is currently in custody awaiting trial for an alleged credit card fraud.
But the brothers, described as family men at the heart of the local community, were found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after a trial earlier this year. The prosecution alleged two other men took part in the so-called ?revenge attack? with them.
Munir Hussain was given a 30-month sentence, while his brother, Tokeer, was jailed for 39 months.
Hussain, an engineer by training, came to Britain in 1964 and founded a company which employs nine people and had a ?2.4 million turnover last year. In 2004 he won the Business Link small business of the year award. He is a former chairman of the Wycombe Race Equality Council.
Judge John Reddihough said that Munir Hussain?s family had been subject to a ?serious and wicked offence? and praised the bravery of his teenage son who escaped to raise the alarm.
He also noted the ?courage? of Munir Hussain, but said he carried out a ?dreadful, violent attack? on Salem as he lay defenceless. Under normal sentencing guidelines they would each be starting sentences of at least seven years, the judge added.
?It may be that some members of the public, or media commentators, will assert that the man Salem deserved what happened to him at the hands of you and the two others involved, and that you should not have been prosecuted and need not be punished," said the judge.
?However, if persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.?
Michael Wolkind QC, defending, promised to appeal the sentence. He argued that his client, who has been prescribed anti-depressants, had simply acted in the heat of the moment in ?extreme circumstances of stress? and was the ?real victim? in the case.
Mr Wolkind said the case had similarities to that of Tony Martin, noting there was public support in both cases. He told the court: ?The public surely do not want Munir Hussain to receive imprisonment. I don?t seek a medal, I seek justice for him.?
Prosecutors said that the Hussains were not convicted for apprehending Salem, but for the ?excessive force? they used on him. Hilary Neville, prosecuting, said: ?What started as reasonable self defence by Munir Hussain then turned into excessive force by virtue of a sustained attack by Munir, Tokeer and at least two others.?
The brothers, who live near each other in Desborough Road, High Wycombe, did not react as they were sentenced, but members of their family watching from the public gallery tearfully shook their heads.
The Government has promised that people who fight back against burglars will find the law is on their side, so long as they do not use excessive or disproportionate violence. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, introduced last year, contained clauses to protect people from prosecution if they act instinctively and out of fear for their safety.
Jack Straw, Justice Secretary, said: ?Law-abiding citizens should not be put off tackling criminals by fear of excessive investigation. For a passer-by witnessing a street crime or a householder faced with a burglar, we are reassuring them that if they use force which is not excessive or disproportionate, the law really is behind them.? In the Martin case, the murder conviction was reduced on appeal to manslaughter and his sentence to five years.
The Reading court heard sentencing would have an impact on the local economy, with 10 members of staff losing their jobs at Soundsorba, the company run by Munir Hussain, who employs his brother as a technical director.
Sentencing the brothers, whose mother had died just before the incident, the judge added: ?This case is a tragedy for you and your families. Sadly, I have no doubt that my public duty requires me to impose immediate prison sentences of some length upon you.
?This is in order to reflect the serious consequences of your violent acts and intent and to make it absolutely clear that, whatever the circumstances, persons cannot take the law into their own hands, or carry out revenge attacks upon a person who has offended them.?
Munir Hussain is said to feel that he let down his wife Shaheen Begum and sons Awais, 21, Samad, 15, and 18-year-old daughter Arooj, by failing to defend them against Salem and his gang. His wife had suffered a stroke prior to the incident, and has since had a mini stroke. There were now fears for his mental health, a psychiatrist who assessed him told the judge.
Dr Philip Joseph said Munir Hussain could even attempt suicide if his depression reached that stage, saying: ?He would be in his cell, worrying about his family, thinking about the many losses he has suffered as a result of this incident. I would have concerns he would make a serious bid to harm himself.?
Before sentencing, a senior police officer had told Munir Hussain that he had sympathy for him. The court heard Chief Inspector Colin Seaton of Thames Valley Police, the senior officer in the case, approached Munir Hussain after a community meeting, asking if there was anything he could do to help.
?He stated that whatever happened that night in the heat of the moment, he was still sad to see Munir Hussain and Tokeer Hussain convicted,? Mr Wolkind added. ?He said they were outstanding members of the community and they had done a great deal of work in the community, both before this incident and afterwards.?
Speaking outside court, Mr Wolkind said: ?The criminal justice system has failed twice. The court was unable to sentence Walid Salem with sufficient harshness, or Munir and Tokeer Hussain with sufficient compassion.
?It?s difficult to believe that this outcome reflects the thinking of the public, or the interests of justice.? He said he intended to appeal against the sentence on his client?s behalf.
Munir Hussain should not be in prison. It is quite unfortunate.