A MAN who was originally from Keswick has been shot dead while protecting his partner from a farm robbery in South Africa.

Julian Stobbs, 59, who made up one half of the well-known “Dagga Couple”, was fatally shot during a house robbery in Sunrella, Gauteng, on Friday.

His long-term partner Myrtle Clarke was unharmed.

The couple famously set up a non-profit-making organisation called ‘Fields of Green for All’ to fight through the courts to make the personal use of cannabis legal in South Africa.

A former Royal Navy sailor, Mr Stobbs – known to family and friends as Jules – was shot multiple times in the head and chest as armed gang members broke into their home as they slept.

Ms Clarke, 53, managed to escape unharmed after the noise of the gunshots alerted neighbours nearby and forced the robbers to flee, leaving her partner in a critical condition.

The killers are said to have entered the couple’s bedroom.

Mr Stobbs' death was confirmed on The Dagga Couple’s Facebook page.

The post read: “During the early morning hours of Friday, 3 July 2020, an armed robbery took place at the property of Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, best known as The Dagga Couple.

“The attackers entered the couple’s bedroom and shot and fatally wounded Jules Stobbs. Myrtle was physically left unharmed and the attackers made off with two cellphones and two laptops.

“The cannabis community is mourning the passing of our hero. The family is requesting that the public respect their privacy and allow Myrtle and the family some space during this difficult time.

“Thank you for the outpouring of love we have already received.”

Paramedics attended the remote farm in Lanseria, 30 miles north of Johannesburg, but nothing could be done and Mr Stobbs was declared dead at the scene.

The former British serviceman was an air traffic controller for a Lynx helicopter that was based on board frigate HMS Penelope in the Falklands War.

The hotelier’s son had moved to the South African farm, which was used as a private members and social club, from Keswick in 1994.

The couple's high-profile cannabis campaign was launched in 2013 and ended in 2018 when the law was changed to decriminalise the use, growing and possession of cannabis for personal use.

After the court battle, the smoking of cannabis for personal use was made fully legal in South Africa. They became household names, well-known for their cannabis bashes at their club.

The couple also became involved in the South African TV and film industry working on the local version of Big Brother and on the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda.