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Norfolk farmer Tony Martin on Channel 4 documentary The Interrogation about the aftermath of the Bleak House shootings

PUBLISHED: 14:01 13 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:43 14 November 2018

Tony Martin pictured at Bleak House   Picture: Matthew Usher

Tony Martin pictured at Bleak House Picture: Matthew Usher

Archant © 2009

Sitting down a waterlogged farm track in a mud-spattered estate car, Tony Martin shrugs when asked about a forthcoming drama documentary about him.

A scene from the Interrogation   Picture: Channel 4A scene from the Interrogation Picture: Channel 4

Sunday sees the first showing of an hour-long film based on transcripts of interviews he gave police after he was arrested almost 20 years ago.

“All the things the police said about me,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how it comes out and how it comes over.”

Mr Martin, now in his mid-70s, was arrested in August 1999 after he turned a pump action shotgun on thieves who broke into his remote farmhouse at Emneth Hungate, near Wisbech.

Fred Barras, 16, was later found dead in the garden. Brendan Fearon crawled to a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm, after he was wounded in the legs and buttocks.

Tony Martin, pictured on the 15th anniversary of the Bleak House shootings Picture: Chris BishopTony Martin, pictured on the 15th anniversary of the Bleak House shootings Picture: Chris Bishop

Mr Martin was charged with murder. While he was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court and jailed for life, the conviction was later reduced to manslaughter on appeal and he was released in 2003.

Prosecutors at his trial portrayed him as an angry man, with a vendetta against burglars. They said he booby-trapped his home and armed himself with an illegal weapon.

The programme is said to be based on verbatim transcripts of interviews Mr Martin gave detectives after his arrest at a hotel in Wisbech.

“I’m just a very simple man really,” he said. “I see things much more clearly than the establishment.

Tony Martin, played by Steve Pemberton   Picture: Channel 4Tony Martin, played by Steve Pemberton Picture: Channel 4

“I’m showing my ignorance but I really don’t know what a transcript is. I really don’t have a clue.

“I’ve had so much bumph around the years, so much paperwork. I try to be compliant and amenable but it doesn’t really amount to anything. It’s all just bumph, stacks and lorry loads of paper.”

Mr Martin’s trial in April 2000 heard he was woken in the night by crashing noises.

“I was taken by surprise,” he told the court. “I saw these lights like car lights. There seemed to be a lot of lights. At that stage I started to become very frightened, fearful, terrified.

Tony Martin's story brought the issue of how much force householders can use to defend their property to the forefront  Picture: Matthew UsherTony Martin's story brought the issue of how much force householders can use to defend their property to the forefront Picture: Matthew Usher

“I didn’t want to go back downstairs. I couldn’t face what was going to happen. I didn’t know what was down there.”

Mr Martin told officers he went back and loaded the shotgun he kept in his bedroom before going out onto the landing.

“I heard this murmuring and had this light shone in my eyes,” he said. “All these things happened in a flash. I couldn’t stand it any longer and then I just let the gun off.”

Mr Martin spoke at length of his fears and beliefs during police interviews. Actor Steve Pemberton, who plays the bachelor farmer, said: “He is intelligent, well-spoken and articulate.

Tony Martin at Bleak House   Picture: Matthew UsherTony Martin at Bleak House Picture: Matthew Usher

“He’s eccentric, that’s for sure and some of his phraseology has been hard to learn, but also he’s very emotional.”

Mr Martin said: “The way I come over to me is I speak the Queen’s English. I don’t say ‘yeah’ I say ‘yes’, that’s the only thing I know, it’s what we were taught at school.

“People reckon I’m cantankerous. I’m bound to be. I went to Fakenham the other day, I went to a few restaurants and I tell you what, people don’t talk any more, they shout. It’s all just: ‘All right mate? All right mate?”

Mr Martin still works his farm, although he has not set foot inside Bleak House, the property where the shootings happened, since his release from jail.

“I’ve got no end of jobs to do,” he said. “I’ve never really caught up with the four years I lost.”

He maintains crime is still an issue on the Norfolk - Cambridgeshire border, criss crossed by undulating tracks and land drains.

“I put a ladder out the other day,” he said. “I put it up a tree.

“When I came back later on, they’d put it up against the house. They’d tried to get in the house.

“I had a policeman write to me the other day and said I’d got an issue. I said I’ve not got an issue, I’ve got a problem.

“I don’t take the police seriously any more. You can just see through them. We’re living in two different worlds.”

Two fighter jets thunder overhead as Mr Martin wonders what has happened to the delivery of trees he is expecting. As the skies fall silent, deer tip toe across the track close to his battered Mondeo.

The Interrogation is broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday, November 18 (9pm).

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