In a judgement so utterly out of touch with either public opinion or expectation, that it can only be a matter of time before the judge is offered a job by Kenny MacAskill, Mr Munir Hussain has been jailed for two and a half years for assaulting a burglar with a cricket bat.
Mr Hussain and his family were tied up and beaten by three knife wielding thugs. He and his brother escaped and beat up one of the robbers (who had more than 50 previous convictions). The robber received a 'supervision order'.
Politicians have expressed 'disquiet' over the case and the tories have been lambasted by the liberal left for promising to review the law where householders defend their property.
I can see the point of those who are concerned that allowing greater use of force for the public to defend against 'home invasions'. The argument being that this could lead to an escalation of violence on the part of burglars. However, burglars are invariably 'tooled up' in some way in order to break into a property in the first place, so it's an argument I don't think holds too much water.
Personally, I think it is entirely appropriate for a person defend themselves, their family and their property when someone breaks in and threatens them with violence.
I'm not sure however, that the law really appreciates or defines 'reasonable force'in these situations. In the cold light of day in the courtroom, I suspect it is incredibly difficult to express the full horror of such an event, or to articulate a persons reaction to it.
This concerns me considerably. We have all heard of the 'fight or flight' mechanism that the body uses in times of danger, but fewer people have heard of the 'adrenaline dump' that accompanies it (bear with me on this).
The adrenaline dump has several effects, the heart and breathing rates increase, the blood flows towards the major organs and the body can start to tremble.
The person develops 'tunnel vision' as they focus on the threat and hearing is impaired, sometimes to the point of being totally deaf, and events appear to occur in slow motion. Fine motor functions are lost (putting a key in a lock for example could well nigh be impossible for some) and gross motor functions become enhanced.
So where am I going with this? Well, the body also becomes temporarily dulled to pain, and crucially, self control can pretty much go out the window meaning that a person can be extremely aggressive in their response to a situation as they lose their 'self awareness'.
It is an extremely disorientating experience if you are not used to/aware of it. I have only experienced it once to a great degree, around 20 years ago, and it is difficult, if not impossible to actually describe the full effect of it, or the feeling of confusion that follows it.
Effectively, a person defending themselves, their family and home, might well commit acts of violence that they would not otherwise think themselves capable of.
So is this taken into account when cases such as Mr Hussain's are dealt with? I'd hope so, but I doubt it. If the law is changed as the tories propose (although this would not affect Scotland), then it is important to acknowledge that where a person is acting in self defence, the level of violence used might not be considered by some to be reasonable, but it might also not be entirely the defenders fault.
At the end of the day, who is the criminal, the person seeking to protect him or herself, or the person who has broken into their home to harm them and steal their possessions?