Police say he’s a murderer. But many Aussies say he should walk free for “defending his home”.

Following a hearing in Newcastle Local Court earlier today, Ben Batterham is set to remain in jail, and the public is not happy.

Batterham did not apply for bail or opt to appear at the hearing.

The 33-year-old man has been charged over the death of 34-year-old Ricky Slater, who allegedly broke into Batterham’s home on Saturday night.

According to his family, Batterham awoke at approximately 3:30am to find Slater near his daughter’s bedroom and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest.

When police arrived they found three men fighting, two of whom were detaining Slater.

Slater then lost consciousness and was rushed to the nearby John Hunter Hospital, where he later died surrounded by his family.

Despite being arrested on charges of grievous bodily harm, Batterham’s charges have since been upgraded to murder.

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Following the upgraded charges, an online petition has since been created that demands Batterham’s charges be dropped.

Addressed to the NSW Attorney General, the petition reads, “Homeowners should be able to defend their families from criminals who break into their homes – and Benjamin should be released now!!!”

The petition has almost 14,000 signatures.

Ben Batterham house
According to his family, Batterham awoke at approximately 3:30am to find Slater near his daughter’s bedroom and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest.

The support has also flowed on social media, with many using the hashtag #freebenbatterham and #changethelaw expressing their views that Batterham was simply defending his family and should not face murder charges.

“I stand behind Ben Batterham and what he did to protect his family. This is a disgusting miscarriage of justice, if the intruder was not in somone elses house he would not have been fatally injured by the owner of the home trying to protect his family.. The home owner should go free no questions asked, we must stop protecting criminals and their families at the expense of the real victims. If the stupid pr**k wasn’t in that house he’d be alive. Enough said,” one Facebook user wrote.

Slater had previously served time in jail for aggravated break in and enter offences, and was released in December 2015.

While Slater’s family maintain that he was invited to Batterham’s post for a party, the cause of the death has yet to be confirmed by police.

The matter has been adjourned until 25 May.

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