Home­owner who shot bully cleared of mur­der

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Keith Hunt

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.

Open win­dow

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

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