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Petition to free man charged with murder

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UPDATE: More than 40,000 Australians have signed a petition demanding the immediate release of a man who allegedly killed an intruder in his home in NSW.

Ben Batterham, 33, was charged with the murder of 34-year-old Ricky Slater-Dickson on Saturday morning.

Mr Slater-Dickson reportedly broke into Mr Batterham’s house in Newcastle, before the homeowner and a friend confronted the alleged intruder.

Mr Slater-Dickson died in hospital on Sunday.

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By 8.30pm on Tuesday (AEDT), some 40,600 people had signed the petition on to free the accused.

The petition, created by Keith O’Meara and directed to NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton, states: “What are you supposed to do, lay down and die and let unspeakable things happen to your loved ones while you wait for the police?”

“Homeowners should be able to defend their families from criminals who break into their homes.”

Mr Batterham was originally charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm but the charge was upgraded to murder after Mr Slater-Dickson was taken off life support.

As reported previously, NSW Police said they found Mr Slater-Dickson being detained by Mr Batterham and his friend, who reportedly tackled and placed the alleged intruder in a headlock.

However, how the victim’s injuries became so severe and reasons behind his entrance to the property remain in question.

Speaking outside Newcastle Local Court on Monday, Mr Slater-Dickson’s family told reporters he did not break into the home but was there for a party.

Several signatories to the petition are angry that people cannot defend their properties and families.

“I’m signing because as a home owner I should be able to protect what it rightfully mine and as a mother I believe I should be able to protect my children… If I found someone standing over one of my children I would do all in my power to protect them to the end,” said Lea-Anne Dabron.

“He was protecting his family, ask any man or women they would do the exact same thing… I know I would,” added Lisa Hooper.

Mr Batterham did not apply for bail at a court hearing in Newcastle.

The matter has now been adjourned until late May.

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