Manchester

Salford burglar stabbed to death: Three arrested

A police officer at the house on Ethel Avenue
Image caption Police received a call from the house saying a burglary was taking place

A burglar has been stabbed to death and the householder arrested on suspicion of murder after an attempted break-in at his house in Salford.

Four masked men attempted to get into a house in Ethel Avenue before midnight on Wednesday.

The stabbed man, John Leonard Bennell, 27, from Hyde, is believed to have been carried away by the other intruders as they fled, before being left in a road.

Peter Flanagan, 57, son Neil, 29, and Neil's girlfriend are being held.

The men and the 21-year-old woman are being questioned on suspicion of murder.

A 999 call was made from the house, during which the caller said four masked men were trying to break in.

Prime minister's vow

Police said Mr Bennell was found on Hospital Road in Pendlebury and died a short time later.

Ch Supt Kevin Mulligan, who heads Greater Manchester Police's Salford division, said he suffered "at least one stab wound" during an altercation in the house involving at least one person from the address and four people breaking in.

He said he could not comment further on the injuries or the cause of death until a post-mortem examination had been carried out.

He also refused to comment on whether the weapon had been taken into the property by the intruder or if it belonged to the householder.

The three people with Mr Bennell at the time of the incident have yet to be traced, Mr Mulligan said.

He urged them, or anyone who knows of their whereabouts, to contact Greater Manchester Police.

Prime Minister David Cameron this week vowed to bring in stronger measures to protect homeowners defending their property.

He said: "We will put beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted."

Image caption A 100m cordon has been put in place around the terraced house

When asked about whether householders should be able to defend themselves, Mr Mulligan said: "Within the existing legal framework, you can use reasonable force to protect yourself - the emphasis on reasonable."

"I don't see it as my position to speculate on possible legislation in the future," he added.

He urged people who thought they were being burgled to contact police.

Police have put up a 100m cordon around the terraced house in Pendlebury, which backs onto open scrubland.

Mr Mulligan said: "I can reassure the community that we will thoroughly investigate what happened last night and do not believe that members of the public are at risk.

"I would urge anyone who knows something to speak to officers from the major incident team and anyone else who has other concerns can speak to my officers, who will be providing an increased presence to provide the community with reassurance."

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