Chief Justice Higgins has accepted the defence argument that Russel was acting in self defence when what he thought were two members of the Rebels came calling:
It is apparent from this that the accused assumed that “the Rebels” were the persons who had intimidated his mother and uttered threats against him. He further assumed that the two men who came to his door on 24 March 2009 were, as then, seeking to take his property, as well as that of Witness 3, and do him serious injury if not kill him.
These fears, whether or not the deceased themselves intended physical harm of that order, were reasonable and I have no doubt were genuinely held by the accused. His primary purpose therefore was to avoid harm to himself. If he was only concerned for his property I think he would have surrendered “the list” he referred to. Indeed, he said as much.
I appreciate that to rebut either provocation or self-defence the prosecution bears the onus of proof but, in this case, I am left in no doubt that the accused, when he decided to obtain his shot-gun was motivated by a well-founded fear that if he did not defend himself from the deceased he would be seriously injured or killed. I am not in so finding, expressing satisfaction that the deceased had that intention. I think it likely that their primary purpose was to get the drop-saw but I think also that they were taking advantage of that purpose to get any other items that could have been property of Witness 3, at least in their minds, and further to terrorise the accused in retaliation for his supposed ill-treatment of Witness 3.