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In Canada, Serve Intruders Tea Before Defending Yourself

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The law that says a person shouldn't use excessive force when battling an intruder or making a citizen's arrest is pretty good in theory, but ludicrous in practice.

And yet it's the law. Even the new Citizen's Arrest and Defence Act (dubbed the "Lucky Moose" bill) which supposedly expands the legal powers of a citizen making an arrest -- as David Chen did when his Lucky Moose Mart in the Kensington area of Toronto was victimized by a thief that he took down by force -- is inadequate.

In Chen's case, he was initially charged with kidnapping and assault when he tackled a thief and called the police. In the charges against Chen, the thief (whose sentence had been served) gave evidence against him. Judicial insanity.

Eventually Chen was cleared and is now, justifiably, something of a folk-hero.

Now we have another case of a guy (Moses Mahilal, 26), bringing his girlfriend to her home at 3 a.m. and finding a guy in the process of robbing the place where she lived with her mother.

Mahilal, who probably knows nothing about the Lucky Moose bill, grabbed knife from the kitchen and raced upstairs where he caught the guy, hiding and loaded with stolen property. Mahilal didn't waste any time in attacking and stabbing him.

The thief, Kino Johnson, 33, ran away with Mahilal after him. Johnson landed in hospital, and at his trial was sentenced to 20 months in jail and two years probation.

His record includes convictions for assault, robbery and theft, so clearly he's a potentially dangerous guy. I doubt there's a reasonable citizen in this country who doesn't identify with Moses Mahilal's reaction, and feels that anyone burglarizing a home takes his chances, and no tears wept if he's caught and manhandled.

Oh, Johnson is quoted in the Toronto Star saying that with a knife wound in his chest he could've died.

At his trial, Johnson expressed gratitude to God (I'll bet!), and that he wanted to be a good person and turn his life around.

Baloney, some will say.

He should have thought of that before breaking into the house after midnight.

Frankly, I doubt the courts (or prison system) have seen the last of this guy.

What's outrageous is that Mahilal, the guy who thwarted the burglar, has been charged with aggravated assault. Yes, that he used excessive physical force rather than ask (or listen to) explanations from the burglar as to how he'd lost his way or was sleep walking , or something.

Undoubtedly Mahilal was angry at the invasion, but also he was brave. He didn't know if the guy was armed-- and if he was armed it'd likely be a gun. Mahilal was in attack mode, defending his girlfriend and her mother. As his lawyer has pointed out, in other circumstances the Mahilal would be regarded as a hero and get a medal.

Let's hope there's some sanity when his case comes up.

It should have been dismissed, but due process doesn't work that way.

Lecture him, if the court thinks that is appropriate, but also commend him for his actions. Many of us hope we would act similarly if faced with such an unnerving situation, but fortunately most of us will never know.