Knock knock run: harmless fun or criminal conduct?

Knock and Run: harmless child's prank...or criminal conduct?

But the game - in which children knock on someone's front door then run away before the door can be answered - can lead to serious repercussions for both householders - and the youngsters who play them.

In the UK a little known law under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, makes it a criminal offence to "wilfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant, by pulling or ringing any door bell, or knocking at any door" - with culprits facing up to 14 days jail.

But it was householder Lee Kilburn (pictured), 45, from Bolton, Greater Manchester who found himself in prison after he confronted youngsters knocking on his front door and running away.

Warehouseman Mr Kilburn - who had been comforting his partner as she had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness - chased after the group and caught an 11-year old girl as she was fleeing the scene.

During a scuffle her hair was grabbed and she was hit twice in the face causing her to suffer a broken and bloodied nose. Later Kilburn was arrested and charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm. Despite having no history of trouble he was jailed for a year and was sent to Forest Bank jail in Salford alongside convicted killers and rapists - leaving partner of 17 years Dianne Fallows, 57, at home to cope with an incurable brain tumour.

After serving three months behind bars, he was allowed back home after appeal court judges gave him a nine month suspended jail term instead saying the original penalty was ''too harsh.''

Mercifully the assault was minor compared to a case in the US in 2011 when a 56-year old householder was charged with attempted murder in the state of Kentucky after he shot and wounded a 12 year old boy as he and friends were fleeing his home after playing the prank on him.

But the decision to free Mr Kilburn was greeted with fury by the girl's mother who set up a Facebook group demanding Mr Kilburn ''Serve The Sentence He Deserves.’

Friends posted messages calling Mr Kilburn a ''vile vile man'' and a ''nonce'' and ''monster'' with the girl's grandmother saying: ''No child deserves to be subjected to what happened to her for playing a game we have all played. Her mum has been through hell and still is because of this monster.''

Cavendish Press spoke to Mr Kilburn who gave an exclusive interview saying: "Those kids were making our lives a misery. Night after night we would have children messing around and playing knock and run. It is not an excuse for violence, but at the time we were, and still are, going through hell. I tried to ignore it but I snapped. I fell on to her and accidentally hit her. I just wanted them to stop.''

Cavendish Press also spoke to the girl's mother who said: ''I thought he should have got longer in jail in the first place and I think he's making a mockery of the justice system. Everyone knows you can't hit a child whether it's your own or a stranger's."

Coverage of the incident featured in the Telegraph, Mirror and Mail online. If you have a story please contact us on 0161 237 1066 or email [email protected] We'd like to hear from you.