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‘Intruder’ death sparks Australia debate

Mr Batterham and his family moved into the Newcastle home late last year and intended to renovate, Australian media said

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Mr Batterham and his family moved into the Newcastle home late last year and intended to renovate, Australian media said

An Australian man accused of killing an alleged intruder will remain behind bars in a case provoking debate over laws relating to home invasions.

Ricky Slater-Dickson, 34, allegedly broke into the home Benjamin Batterham, 33, shares with his wife and daughter in Newcastle, north of Sydney.

Mr Batterham and a friend reportedly detained Mr Slater-Dickson around 3:30 AEDT (16:30 GMT) on Saturday.

Mr Slater-Dickson died in hospital the next day.

Mr Batterham, who faces a murder charge, did not apply for bail at Newcastle Local Court on Tuesday, and the matter was adjourned to 25 May.

It is not clear exactly where Mr Slater-Dickson was detained or how he received injuries severe enough to kill him.

The case has caused a stir on social media and thousands of people have signed petitions pleading for Mr Batterham’s release.

“If you can’t legally protect yourself, your home and most importantly your family, then what are you supposed to do – lay down and die and let unspeakable things happen to your loved ones while you wait for police?” said one of the petitions.

But Mr Slater-Dickson’s family, who claimed he had been invited to the house for a party, said they wanted “justice”.

Beryl Dickson, Mr Slater-Dickson’s mother, cried outside court as she spoke of her son’s three daughters.

“They have lost their father. Their beautiful father they haven’t seen for years because he was in jail,” Ms Dickson said on Monday. “Just to think them little kids are going to grow up without a dad now.”

Relatives said Mr Slater-Dickson was turning his life around after he was released from a jail term for break-and-enter offences.

Under New South Wales law, homeowners are entitled to defend themselves against intruders, provided that they do not “intentionally” or “recklessly” kill the person.

New South Wales Law Society president Gary Ulman told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. this was not a straightforward case.

“In this situation you have to look at whether the person, who is the subject of the home invasion, has actually acted reasonably in the circumstances,” Mr Ulman said.

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