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Family of Hither Green ‘burglar’ make tributes plea

April 9, 2018

A fence outside the home of Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, in Hither Green, southeast London, has become a flash-point for tensions between locals and relatives of Henry Vincent since last week’s incident, with balloons burst, cards soiled and flowers left ruined on the pavement.

The 37-year-old’s loved ones returned to the scene on Tuesday to re-attach tributes to the fence, but they were torn down again within minutes.

Now a woman claiming to be his aunt has tried to reason with those responsible.

::‘Burglar’ death: Police release image of ‘accomplice’ Billy Jeeves

Henry Vincent
Image:Henry Vincent died in a struggle

“If people leave the flowers alone, within a week they’ll die, we will come here, clean this road, and go and never come back,” she insisted.

“All we want is them just left until the flowers die and we will take them away.”

Elvina Lee, who said she was Vincent’s first cousin, had earlier described whoever pulled down the tributes as “scum” and called Mr Osborn-Brooks a “murderer” and a “lowlife”.

He was arrested after Vincent died from stab wounds having collapsed near the pensioner’s house following reports of a burglary in the early hours of 4 April.

Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, has been arrested on suspicion of murder
Image:Richard Osborn-Brooks told no further action to be taken

Mr Osborn-Brooks was held on suspicion of murder, but has been released and told he will face no further action.

The Met Police has also said its officers were not involved in taking any of the tributes to him down – nor has the force had to deal with a public order offence on South Park Crescent in relation to the memorial.

The makeshift shrine has not been well received by neighbours, with one man who tore it down on Tuesday slamming it as an “insult”.

Referring to the tributes, he added: “These need burning.”

Another local, Theresa Webb, 43, said earlier they were “inappropriate” and in “poor taste”.

She said: “You’re thinking ‘How long will it be up there?’ I’m relieved it’s down. There was 101 bouquets down there.”

The shrine to Henry Vincent
Image:Flowers had been ripped from a fence

Some of the bunches of flowers were dumped in a nearby cemetery.

A resident who gave his name only as Peter said: “I wouldn’t want them on my wall, anyway, put it like that.

“They were climbing the fence and everything yesterday. Will he ever be able to come back and live here? I doubt it. It’s sad.”

Nikita Hill, 39, who lives nearby, said: “I don’t think they should have put it outside his home. Maybe they could have done it further away. But he’s got loved ones and family too so I understand why they did it.”

The shrine to Henry Vincent
Image:Flowers had been left as a tribute

The Met said that on the night of the incident one suspect, armed with a screwdriver, forced the homeowner into his kitchen when he discovered them, while his accomplice went upstairs.

A struggle is believed to have followed and the intruder was stabbed in the upper body but it is not clear what object was used to inflict the fatal blow.

A witness said an accomplice dragged Vincent towards a van before he then fled.

Police have named 28-year-old Billy Jeeves as wanted in connection with the alleged burglary and want to hear from anyone who may have seen the van with the registration GU52 AXT.

Jeeves’ white Vauxhall Astra van was discovered burnt out and destroyed in Orpington, Kent, on Saturday.

The shrine to Henry Vincent
Image:A tribute strewn on the ground

The damage to the makeshift shrine comes as Vincent’s body was released back to his family by a coroner, and an inquest into the death was opened.

The coroner at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard that Vincent, from Lime Road in Swanley, Kent, was jobless and single at the time he died at University Hospital Lewisham.

The shrine to Henry Vincent
Image:A tribute strewn on the ground

The Met Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding told the court: “The facts are that on Wednesday April 4, two males including Henry Vincent entered a residential address at about 12.40am whilst committing a burglary.

“During this burglary the male resident stabbed Henry Vincent, that ultimately led to his death.”

Several of Vincent’s relatives were in court. The coroner told them: “I know you are having a dreadful time, I am releasing the body to you.”