A dad who killed a burglar he discovered strangling his neighbour has spoken about the “hell” he endured to clear his name.
Russell Harrison rushed to help after hearing “blood curdling” screams from the home next door in December 2015.
He found young mum Jessica Page being choked by Adam Slomczewski, who she found ransacking her house in Melbourne, Australia.
When Mr Howard burst in, Ms Page was able to escape.
But anxious to ensure the burglar didn’t get away, Mr Howard – a former soldier – wrestled with him before getting him in a headlock.
He was able to get Slomczewski, 44, into a ‘sleeper hold’ until he passed out.
By the time police arrived, however, the burglar was unresponsive, and died despite Mr Howard’s to revive him by doing CPR.
For the next two years, he faced the daunting prospect of a murder charge before a coroner finally ruled Slomczewski died from a heart attack caused by drugs.
Mr Howard, who is from the US, told Australia’s Sunday Night: “In the States, if you are defending yourself against a home intruder and they end up dead, so sorry, that’s your right to defend yourself.
“You need to be able to defend yourself, defend someone else and defend your property without the fear of prosecution from the police.”
He said he nearly lost his family during the ordeal, as he and wife Karen were on the brink of divorce.
His security business also suffered as a result of the case, he said.
Nevertheless he said he would not do anything differently if the same situation unfolded again.
Mr Howard stated: “I would have no second doubts, if I ran across that same situation today, I would do it again if I had to.”
The dad-of-three has been branded a hero, but not everyone agrees.
A burglar who lost his left leg during a struggle with a homeowner in New South Wales in 2016 says he is enduring a “life sentence” for his crime.
Ben Rhodes suffered a gunshot wound, which the owner of the gun said was accidental, during a break-in.
Mr Rhodes said: “You can’t just shoot some one because he’s on your property. Not in Australia.”