Homeowner who shot bully cleared of murder
A HOMEOWNER who blasted a “bully” to death at point-blank range as he tried to break into his home has been cleared of murder.
A jury took just one hour yesterday (Wednesday) to unanimously acquit Kenneth Batchelor, who wept with relief. No alternative of manslaughter was given.
Afterwards, he said: “I am very relieved. I do not believe this should have gone to court in the first place.
“On that night my body was made to run on a powerful cocktail of adrenalin and fear but which controlled which I have absolutely no idea.”
His sobbing wife Linda added: “It has been such an ordeal.”
Judge Jeremy Carey told the jury of seven men and five women: “I have no doubt this caused you a considerable amount of anxiety and a great deal of concentration.
“I say this, not in any way being controversial: No one should draw conclusions of a grand kind towards this case, save this defendant has been acquitted of murder. Each case depends on its own merits. You have not sent out your own message. This was on any view an unusual case. I am sure you will heartily agree.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard Matt Clements, said to have an explosive temper, had made several threatening telephone calls to Mr Batchelor before turning up at his house in Chilham in the early hours.
Mr Batchelor, 50, stood terrified behind a window in the second floor attic he was converting as Mr Clements climbed up the scaffolding.
Cairns Nelson, prosecuting, said the 20-stone body builder had ripped open his shirt “in a macho way” and was intent on threatening or inflicting violence.
Mr Batchelor, a self-employed mechanic specialising in Porsche cars, shot 42-year-old Mr Clements in the chest through an open window with a 12-bore shotgun he legally owned.
Afterwards, Mr Batchelor screamed hysterically down the phone to his future wife, who had been listening to the confrontation, that he had killed Mr Clements.
Mr Nelson said Mr Clements, who ran a business providing bouncers to clubs and trained guard dogs, had become fixated that his girlfriend was owed maintenance by Mr Batchelor’s brother Gary over children they had together.
He started to “demand money with menaces” from Mr Batch- elor and a third brother David. “This was nothing to do with Kenneth Batchelor,” said the prosecutor.
Mr Clements, of Wayside Avenue, St Michael’s, Tenterden, made threatening calls to Mr Batchelor on November 17 2007, before going to his home, Hendon Cottages in Canterbury Road, Chilham, at about 1am the next day.
“The defendant knew he was coming to his home and probably to get him – to inflict violence,” said Mr Nelson. Mr Clements was violently attempting to pull open the window.
He told the jury of seven men and five women: “Kenneth Batchelor is a perfectly decent and respectable man and you will have considerable sympathy for him and the position he found himself in on that dreadful night in November.
“It is not pleasant to speak ill of the dead but it is a plain fact the same cannot be said of the deceased – a man capable of violence, a man who was prone to an explosive temper.
“He could be a bully. Indeed, the Crown suggest in the hours leading up to this incident that is precisely what he was.
“You may consider when you have heard all the evidence that perhaps Matt Clements was the author of his own misfortune and demise that night.”
But Mr Nelson added the jury had to decide whether he deserved his fate. “You will have no difficulty, we suggest, in coming to the conclusion that at the point Mr Batchelor shot the deceased he was a frightened man.
“You will also come to the conclusion, we suggest, it is pretty certain that Matt Clements was the aggressor in this case.
“Mr Batchelor was entitled to defend himself and his property. The case enters that very difficult area – the degree to which a householder can use violence to defend himself.
“What is reasonable and what is unreasonable, what goes over the line, what doesn’t go over the line.”
Mr Batchelor denied murder, claiming the gun went off accidentally after Mr Clements smashed open the window, knocking him backwards.
See next week’s paper for reaction to the case.
Doorman Matt Clements