Updated 16 July: The Canarian Supreme Court has ordered a retrial of the elderly Arafo man for shooting a burglar in his finca. The original prison sentence imposed on him has been annulled after an appeal not only by the man himself but also the public prosecutor’s office.
Updated 12 April 2018: The elderly man who fatally shot a burglar in his Arafo finca three years ago has been sentenced to four years in prison, two for the shooting and two for illegally holding firearms. The news might be of particular interest to British readers given the furore in the UK media at present over police treatment of a pensioner who killed a burglar in south east London recently. In that case, the CPS decided that there was no case that could be brought successfully to a legal concusion and police released the man with no charges … and to reportedly widespread anger that he had been arrested or held at all.
In this Arafo case, however, the jury decided that the pensioner did have other options, most notably relating to the fact that the burglar was not killed in the property itself but outside when the owner was trying to chase after him. It also, of course, involved a firearm, and an unlicensed one at that, which was not the case in the recent UK situation. Nonetheless, there is consternation that the elderly man has been sentenced to anything at all given that he and his wife were tied up and tortured by the two thieves who broke into their property.
The shock is increased by the fact that in the trial by jury, both the public prosecutor and the defence had asked for complete absolution for the man, and the jury itself declared that although his defence of minimum necessary force (a yardstick here as well as in the UK) was partly inadmissable because it had clearly been exceeded, he should receive no more than a suspended sentence. A second charge of illegal possession of firearms was given a two year suspended sentence.
Updated 5 March 2015: Police have picked up the second assailant, according to reports on CanariasRadio this morning. Meanwhile, the elderly couple’s lawyer says that police were originally called by the wife’s sister who, unknown to the thieves, was also in the property, and was a witness to the beating her sister received. Despite reporting restrictions, Diario de Avisos has today reported that the dead burglar was an ex-employee of the elderly man, and had once lost a legal action against his business. A grudge motive – with an hypothesis that it was more than a simple domestic robbery – therefore seems likely to form part of the man’s defence in the investigation of the murder imputation.
Updated 3 March: The Güímar court has imputed the elderly man who shot a burglar for murder, and for having an unlicensed weapon. He is not allowed to leave Spain, and his passport has been removed. It seems that the thief was actually shot in the property itself, when the householder went to the bedroom, ostensibly to get more money for the robbers, but returned with the gun. As he shot one of the thieves, the other fled. Although he has been imputed, he has not been remanded in custody, and is at liberty until his case his heard. Beyond these facts, the court imposed reporting restrictions, so little will now be heard until the case comes to trial.
Original post 2 March 2015: The Guardia Civil has arrested an 83-year-old man on suspicion of shooting dead a thief who had just burgled his finca at Arafo. Two men had broken into the property around 10pm last night, both wearing balaclavas, and having bound and gagged the elderly couple who were at home, were making their getaway when, it seems, the husband managed to free himself and gave chase. One burglar got away, but the other was shot within 20m or so of the house and died at the scene. Police are taking a statement from the elderly householder, who, they say, does not have a firearms licence. Neither burglar has yet been identified, and the escapee remains at large.