Burglars jailed after Salford homeowner killed raider
Three men have been jailed for aggravated burglary at the home of a man who fatally stabbed one of four intruders in Greater Manchester.
Wesley Gibbons, 23, of Stretford, Martin Jamieson, 27, of Eccles, and Christopher Troy, 24, of Hyde received prison terms over last June's raid.
Homeowner Peter Flanagan was held on suspicion of murder after he stabbed John Bennell, 27, but was not charged.
Mr Bennell was fatally stabbed during a struggle at the house in Swinton.
Gibbons was jailed for eight years, Jamieson, who did not enter the house, was given a seven-year term and Troy was jailed for six years by the judge at Minshull Street Crown Court.
Mr Flanagan was not charged because prosecutors were happy he had acted in self-defence.
The court heard he stabbed Mr Bennell in the living room of the house in Ethel Avenue, Pendlebury, as the homeowner attempted to disarm him.
"Mr Flanagan has described his torment," said Judge Leslie Hull, during sentencing.
"He says this would live with him for the rest of his life and he has been driven to seek counselling sessions."
Sentencing former soldier Gibbons and father-of-two Jamieson, the judge said both had "undoubtedly positive features" but what they had done on the night of 22 June was "serious and entirely unforgivable".
They had pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at earlier hearings, as had co-defendant Troy.
Judge Hull said the gang had gone to Mr Flanagan's home in the belief that money and drugs were at the property.
Nicoletta Amatino, prosecuting, said Mr Flanagan was awoken by a "loud thud" downstairs and then the sound of breaking glass.
He went to investigate and was confronted at the bottom of the stairs by a masked Troy who was waving a machete.
Mr Bennell, also wearing a mask, then barged past and went upstairs where he could be heard lifting a bed upside down.
Mr Flanagan saw the other defendants, Gibbons and Jamieson, standing outside at his smashed back door.
Gibbons picked up the machete, which Troy had put down, as he came into the house, Miss Amatino said.
"[Mr Flanagan] said he was terrified and in fear for his life so he picked up a carving knife in the kitchen," she said.
Gibbons came swinging at him and Mr Flanagan countered in what he described as a "fencing match".
During the exchange, the machete flew into the air and was then picked up by Bennell.
The prosecutor said: "In an attempt to defend himself, [Mr Flanagan] jabbed John Bennell with the knife as the struggle went into the living room."
Mr Bennell, who died later in hospital, was chased outside as he dropped the weapon.
CCTV footage showed the four burglars running from the house but with Mr Bennell struggling to keep up with them.
Mark Rhind, defending Gibbons, said his client had no previous convictions and had previously led an honest, law-abiding life.
Richard Orme, representing Jamieson, said his client too showed remorse and pointed out he was the only one not to handle the machete and had no idea it was going to be produced during the raid.
Mr Orme did however tell the court Jamieson had previous robbery convictions.
The court heard that Troy's frank witness statement was instrumental in the eventual basis of pleas for his two co-defendants.
Judge Hull gave Troy a shorter sentence for his willingness to act as a prosecution witness if it had been required.
Troy had previous convictions for assault but nothing comparable to this incident, the court heard.