A HERO cleared over the death of a violent burglar says he would not hesitate to intervene and protect others again.
Russell Harrison has spoken publicly for the first time after enduring a 22-month legal ordeal since his struggle with Adam Slomczewski ended with the intruder's death.
State Coroner Sara Hinchey this month found Slomczewski died from "cardiac arrhythmia in the setting of struggle, neck compression and amphetamine use".
Mr Harrison intervened as the 44-year-old drug-user and ex-prisoner assaulted and terrorised his female neighbour at Frankston in December, 2015.
"I don't see myself as a hero. I'm just somebody who went to help a neighbour," he told the Herald Sun.
Although the death has taken a heavy toll on his family, Mr Harrison said he would act no differently if he had his time over.
"If the situation arose, I'd do the same thing," he said.
The bodyguard and security company boss, who was a non-commissioned officer in the United States military, has now recovered from long-term arm and knee injuries he suffered in the struggle in his neighbour's Cassia Grove home.
He said he found it hard to take pity on Slomczewski, who had largely been a victim of his own actions.
"Do I have anger? By all means," he said.
"Everyone makes their own choices. When you impose your own choices on other people, that's an issue."
The neighbour he rescued, who wanted only to be known as Jess, was relieved Mr Harrison had finally being cleared.
"He's my hero," she said. "My kids have a mum because of him."
Jess, who suffered head injuries during Slomczewski's onslaught, said she had never been able to return to the home.
"I left immediately. I never went back, except to pack," she said. "You can't unsee what he did."
The terrible toll on Mr Harrison's family has been both financial and mental.
Wife Karen, who had already been battling a debilitating illness, has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. And the violence has troubled their three children.
"I pride myself on being a protector," Mr Harrison said. "Two years on, I can't even protect my family."
Mrs Harrison said it was hard to accept she had been left with a condition she came to know well in her time in US military.
"I'm trained to deal with PTSD in the field, ironically," she said.
Mr Harrison is currently working as a security guard, including at major events. He has also launched his own firm, USAU Group, which provides security services.
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