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Career crook killed by pensioner ‘didn’t deserve to die’, say family

An intruder killed during a raid on a pensioner’s home was a career criminal who worked in a family gang and had spent time in jail.

Henry Vincent, 37, from Kent, was stabbed during a break-in at the home of pensioner, Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, in Hither Green on Wednesday.

He was wanted over a separate burglary involving another elderly victim, it has emerged.

His family’s gang operated in Kent and south London and was jailed for a total of almost 29 years in 2003 after conning pensioners out of £448,180.  

They would knock on doors and suggest homeowners had structural problems, promising to fix them for huge fees.

The men would even escort their victims to the bank so they could withdraw the cash to pay for the work.

Two of the family members made a woman in her 80s sign away her £150,000 property, according to reports. They all admitted deception charges at Croydon Crown Court.

Undeterred, Vincent was jailed again in 2009  after being convicted of defrauding an 80-year-old out of £72,000 for alleged roof repairs.

His father, with whom he committed the crime, went on the run but was caught and jailed in 2011.

In January, Vincent was named and pictured by Kent Police investigating a distraction burglary when jewellery and valuables were stolen from a man in his 70s.

The alleged victim said a woman had gained access to his home in Farningham, Kent, by claiming she had been assaulted and was seeking refuge until a relative arrived.

Vincent’s father Henry Charles Vincent

The woman was invited into the house and began crying and asked for a glass of water.

A white Ford Transit van later pulled up in front of the address and sounded its horn, according to reports, before the woman left the property and got into the van.

After she had left, the victim discovered the catch of his front door was up. A jewellery box containing valuables was found to be missing, believed stolen.

The van had also been reported stolen by a delivery driver the previous day.

Mr Osborn-Brooks was released on police bail after being questioned on suspicion of murder for several hours following his arrest just after midnight on Wednesday.

Police have ordered him to return on a date in early May. His arrest sparked anger from neighbours and an online fund-raising campaign.

Vincent’s uncle Robert Vincent

It has emerged that the pensioner – who was confronted by two intruders, one of them armed with a screwdriver –  may have been trying to protect his wife Maureen.

One of the men went upstairs while Vincent scuffled with Mr Osborn-Brooks and was stabbed.

He fled the house but died of his injuries in the street outside, despite attempts by the emergency services to save him.

He was taken by the London Ambulance Service to a central London hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3.37am.

The second suspect fled the scene before the police arrived.

Scenes of crime offers and forensics teams work at the scene in Hither Green

Credit:
Fiona Hanson

Tributes have been paid to Mr Vincent, said to be a father-of-three girls, by friends and family on social media.

His uncle Stevie, who lives close to his home in Orpington, said: “We’re in mourning here. We don’t want to talk about what’s been said about Henry. We’ve already had the Old Bill round here. We’re not commenting on anything.”

His cousin, who was not identified, told the BBC she was angry Mr Osborn-Brooks had been bailed.  “I don’t know what happened in that home. But all I do know is that my cousin is dead today,” she said.

“The Henry I know, he was such a loving person, and it’s probably something which just went wrong but he shouldn’t have died out of it.” 

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, is leading the investigation.

He said: “I would like to speak with anyone who has information regarding the outstanding suspect from the burglary, who is believed to be a white male; he may have told someone what happened at the address.

“It is possible that he fled the scene in a vehicle, possibly a white van, leaving the scene in the direction of Further Green Road. Did you see this vehicle? Do you know where it went after this? I ask anyone who can help to call our incident room as soon as possible.”

Richard Osborn-Brooks, who has been bailed over Vincent’s death

Community describes living in fear of being targeted

Residents in the small pocket of south east London where the Vincent family live spoke of their fears about which one of their homes would be next to be targeted. 

And for one resident,  Mr Osborn-Brooks, that traumatic experience has become a “nightmare” after he was arrested for murder. 

The community has rallied around the pensioner, launching a fundraising page to pay for any legal fees he may incur and vowing to protest if he is charged. 

Charlene Barnes, a property and legal adviser who lives in Ladywell not far from Mr Osborn-Brooks’ home, said that three masked men had attempted to burgle her last October.

She told the Daily Telegraph that her 15-year-old daughter had called her screaming  and told her they were attempting to get into their house in broad daylight and she rushed to the scene as the police were called. 

The men were disturbed by one of her neighbour’s sons and fled. Residents managed to detain one and take his “massive” knife from him, but he escaped before police arrived, she said.

Ms Barnes said: “It is a real fear around here, there is  a big fear of burglary and knife crime.

“I would say that in the last couple of years it has got a lot worse, my mum had lived here for 30 years and had never complained.

“It is an awful feeling, we don’t feel safe in our own home.”

Crime statistics show that there are around 30 burglaries a month reported in the local area. 

A police van on Further Green Road in Hither Green

Credit:
Jamie Johnson/PA

Ms Barnes has been speaking to other members of the community and plans to organise a protest if Mr Osborn-Brooks faces charges. 

“It is outrageous that a 78-year-old was arrested and held overnight when he was just protecting his home and his wife,” she said. 

“Everyone feels sympathy for him that what started as a traumatic experience has now turned into a nightmare. The whole community will be absolutely furious if we hear about charges and if we do I know that I will be leading a march.” 

Supporters have given over £1,000 to a GoFundMe campaign for Mr Osborn Brooks.

It also emerged that Mr Osborn Brooks had himself been fearful of crime in his local area and had contributed money toward a security gate just 50 yards from his house designed to reduce anti-social behaviour. 

Councillor Mark Ingleby said: “The fact that he contributed, like all the other residents who did, shows they were doing something about security in the area.

“It’s sad for this area, we have worked so hard.”

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/05/burglar-killed-pensioners-home-wanted-previous-robbery/

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