When Carl Sinclair saw a drug addict try to steal his car as his wife and three children were sleeping in his Doncaster home, he grabbed a lump hammer, rushed outside in his boxers and punched the burglar to the floor.
But when police arrived on the scene, they arrested him for assault instead of praising him for his heroics.
Mr Sinclair was then charged with wounding and lost his job as a railway safety manager due to the stress of his arrest in December.
After he was yesterday cleared by a jury in just half an hour, he branded the justice system a farce.
Mr Sinclair told the Daily Mirror: 'I was never the criminal but my life has been left in tatters. I'm just a dad and a husband who did what any man would do to protect his family.
'Yet for 11 months I've been made to feel like a nasty criminal and faced going to prison for a long time.'
The devoted dad said that if he had have been jailed his family would be unable to pay the mortgage and would have lost the house.
'How is that fair?,' he said. 'I stop a well-known thug attacking us and breaking into our home and we are left with the risk of losing everything we have worked so hard for.'
Mr Sinclair said that on the night of burglary his only thought was protecting his family and instinct kicked in.
He said he feared the burglar had a knife and would cut the throats of his wife Nicola and children Natalie, 20, Ryan, 20, and Chelsea, 16.
He admitted punching career criminal Hughie Hendry but said he only hit him hard enough to make sure he didn't come back to harm his family.
Mr Sinclair, who felt 'enormously relieved' after being cleared, could have been jailed for at least three years if found guilty of wounding.
The burglar, who first tried to the door of the house before trying to steal the car, was only given eight weeks in jail.
The Crown Prosecution Service said of the jury's decision to clear Mr Sinclair: 'We acknowledge and respect the decision the jury has reached.'