Did Norfolk-born Myleene Klass break the law?
Jon WelchNorfolk's Myleene Klass was reportedly warned by police after waving a knife to scare off intruders in her garden, but could her actions have been against the law? JON WELCH reports.Jon Welch
Norfolk's Myleene Klass was reportedly warned by police after waving a knife to scare off intruders in her garden, but could her actions have been against the law? JON WELCH reports.
Imagine the situation. You're a young woman at home with your young daughter and you spot youths in your garden shortly after midnight.
You pick up and knife, bang on your kitchen window and wave it at them, causing them to flee. When police arrive, they warn you for your behaviour.
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That is what is reportedly happened to Myleene Klass, the Gorleston-born TV presenter, model and musician, at her home near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
Her spokesman Jonathan Shalit told a national newspaper: 'Myleene was aghast when she was told that the law did not allow her to defend herself at home.
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'All she did was scream loudly and wave the knife to try to frighten them off. She is not looking to be a vigilante, and has the utmost respect for the law, but when the police explained to her that even if you're at home alone and you have an intruder, you are not allowed to protect yourself, she was bemused.'
Yesterday Ms Klass, 31, broke her silence over the incident, saying she had 'no regrets'.
She said the incident had been was 'scary', but claimed that she had done 'what any other mother would do'.
Ms Klass was at home on Friday with her daughter upstairs when she spotted the youths peering into the house.
She grabbed the knife and banged the windows which prompted them to run away.
Speaking at the launch of new ITV1 series Popstar To Operastar, which she will co-host with Alan Titchmarsh, she said: 'It was a scary incident but I've got no regrets as to how I reacted. I think I did what any other mother would do.
'This is my house and that's my daughter up there and I will do anything to protect my daughter and my family. That's what I did.
She added: 'I just saw a shadow pass. I was lying on the floor, on the phone. They were standing at a patio door with just a sheet of glass.'
Hertfordshire Police, however, maintain that they did not reprimand Ms Klass over her knife-waving. 'Officers spoke to reassure the home owner, talked through security and gave advice in relation to the importance of reporting suspicious activity immediately to allow officers to act appropriately,' said a spokesman.
'For clarification, at no point were any official warnings of words of advice given to the home owner in relation to the use of a knife or offensive weapon in their home.'
But while there might be disagreement about exactly what happened in the aftermath of this incident, the law itself is clear.
Advice issued jointly by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers makes it clear that anyone is entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves of others; to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime.
'You are not expected to make fine judgements over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment,' it says.
'So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defence. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon.'
The law says you do not have to wait to be attacked before using defensive force if you are in your own home and fear for yourself or others.
Simon Nicholls, a partner in Norwich-based criminal defence solicitors Belmores, said: 'Politicians talk all sorts of rubbish about what you can and can't do and how the law needs to be changed, but the law is actually very straightforward and it does protect the householder.
'If somebody comes onto your property illegally and you believe reasonably they are about to attack you and your family, you are entitled to use reasonable force to prevent that.
'Sometimes that may even be lethal force. If someone is climbing through your window carrying a weapon and you kill them because you believe they are going to hurt a member of your family that is perfectly legitimate self-defence, and has been for 200 years.
'Once self-defence is raised the prosecution have to disprove it.'
From what he had read about the incident involving Ms Klass, he said he could not see that she had committed any offence.
'It appears the police have used some common sense,' he said.
Mr Nicholls said her reported actions would not constitute threatening behaviour, and that possession of an offensive weapon would not apply in this instance.
'Offensive weapons fall into two categories: the hand grenade and the machine gun, for example, which are designed solely for one purpose; and something like a cricket bat, which is designed for hitting cricket balls but only becomes a weapon if used for an offensive purpose,' he said.
'What matters is what's in someone's head. If they see people in the garden and think they are intruders and wave a knife at the window, but they turn out to be Jehovah's Witnesses coming to preach the gospel, it doesn't matter. What matters is what that person in the house reasonably believed.'