- Police called to break-in in south-east London in the early hours of this morning
- The 78-year-old was ‘confronted by two men and forced into his kitchen’
- He is said to have tackled a ‘burglar’ armed with a screwdriver, who was stabbed
- The pensioner has been arrested after the man, 38, later died in hospital
- Do you anything about the incident? Call MailOnline on 0203 615 2676
A 78-year-old homeowner has been arrested by murder detectives after a suspected burglar he fought with in his own kitchen died of a stab wound.
The pensioner, named locally as Richard Osborn-Brooks, was upstairs asleep with his wife when he was woken by the two men breaking into his suburban home in Hither Green, south-east London last night.
He was forced into his kitchen by one of the men, who was armed with a screwdriver, before a struggle ensued.
The intruder, a 38-year-old man, was left with wounds to his chest and local residents say he collapsed in a neighbouring road and died in hospital.
The homeowner was initially detained on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm but was later arrested on suspicion of murder. The case has been compared to that of Tony Martin, who was jailed for killing an intruder at his home in 1999.
The break-in comes amid a surge in violence in the capital, with 49 people already having died in crimes in London in 2018. Last night’s death brings the toll to 50.
Police have said the second burglary suspect fled the scene before they arrived, and they are still trying to track him down.
Neighbour Clem Williams, who has lived on the road for 20 years questioned the man’s arrest, asked: ‘Why were the men at his house? The man has a right to defend his home. They should let him go.’
The homeowner suffered bruising to his arms but police said his injuries are not life threatening. He remains in custody at a south London police station.
Neighbour Mr Williams, 58, a martial arts instructor, added: ‘It’s a very quiet road, normally we do not get police incidents down this road.
‘There are a lot of older people on this road so I was quite surprised to hear about. I’ve been here 20 years and most people get on with others round here.’
The incident unfolded shortly before 1am this morning in South Park Crescent, just off the South Circular, where houses sell for around £400,000.
Gordon Williams, 44, saw the man on the ground with a stab wound to the chest before another man tried, unsuccessfully, to get him into a white van. The van then drove off before police and paramedics then arrived at the scene.
Mr Williams said: ‘He was a white bloke about my age. I had just gone to to bed and I heard moaning and groaning. I thought it was someone drunk but I looked out of the window.
‘There was a black guy in a white van. I thought he was trying to drag him into the van, but then he drove off down the road.’
Gordon said he then went out of the house to the injured man and added: ‘I just tried to reassure him. His t-shirt was covered in blood.’
Neighbourhood Watch member Sylbourne Sydial, who is in his 40s, said the case reminded her of that of Tony Martin.
He said: ‘A man should be able to defend his home… your home is your castle and I believe your neighbourhood is your kingdom.
‘I have got a wife and child and sometimes I’m out of London – we will have to have a serious discussion with the police about if something like this happens.’
Neighbour Nick Myatt, who lives in a house within the police cordon, said of Mr Osborn-Brooks: ‘I saw him a few times, he’s a lovely old man and he cares for his wife who I think has dementia or is disabled.
‘He’s a nice man, nice to talk to.
‘He’s an old man – it’s a shame really. I hope the law sees sense and let’s him off. I don’t think it’s right.
‘I don’t know his name. I just hope he gets off.
‘One of the police told me it’s definitely him that’s been arrested.’
Nick and a friend who was with him at the scene both confirmed a picture of Richard Osborn-Brooks was the man who lives in the address being searched by police.
Other neighbours also said they knew him from photos.
A neighbour who lives several doors away, also within the cordon, described Osborn-Brooks as a ‘nice guy’.
The elderly man, who declined to give his name, said: ‘He’s retired, but a nice guy, keeps himself to himself.
‘Goes out shopping once a week and that’s about it.
‘He’s been retired all the time I’ve been here – about 20 years. Nice as pie that’s all I can tell you.’
Another young man who lives in the street said Osborn-Brooks is a familiar face at summer street parties.
The man, who was in his 20s but didn’t give his name, said: ‘We have street parties, people bring food with them and the whole neighbourhood comes out.
‘We definitely recognise him from those, he lives on the street.
‘It’s normally a safe area. A burglary has happened here before but it’s not very often.’
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘At 00:45hrs on Wednesday, 4 April, police were called by a homeowner to reports of a burglary in progress at an address in South Park Crescent, Hither Green SE6, and a man injured.
‘The 78-year-old resident found two males inside the address. A struggle ensued between one of the males and the homeowner. The man, aged 38, sustained a stab wound to the upper body.
‘London Ambulance Service took the injured male, who was found collapsed in Further Green Road, SE8, to a central London hospital. He was pronounced dead at 03:37hrs.’
Police were unable to confirm whether the suspect had been stabbed with the screwdriver.
Parts of the street where the break-in was reported, along with neighbouring Further Park Road, have been cordoned off this morning as forensics experts scour the scene.
In Hither Green today one neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the homeowner had been retired for many years.
‘He’s been retired for 26 years. I did some building work on his house a while ago, but I haven’t seen him for about three weeks.’ said the neighbour.
One man, who lives on the adjoining Further Green Road, said there had been a recent spate of burglaries in the area.
‘I was burgled in the last couple of months,’ said the retired man, who did not want to be named.
‘I was renovating the house and they broke in and took a laptop. I know this has happened to others recently.’
Adam Lake, who lives near the scene, also said he did not feel safe from crime.
He said: ‘When I heard it was a burglary I wasn’t surprised, there’s been a noticeable increase in crime in the area.
‘We’ve even had to put up CCTV at home because we didn’t feel safe. Such an awful event, I feel terrible for the man that was burgled.
‘He doesn’t deserve to be punished for defending himself, and the neighbours that I’ve spoken to all agree that the priority needs to be to support him after everything that he’s been through.
‘He was just protecting himself after all.’
A shoe was seen laying in Further Park Road this morning, leading some residents to speculate that the injured man may have run into the neighbouring street before collapsing.
Security guard Ahmed Haili, 32, said he saw people trying to help someone in the street.
He said: ‘It was about 12.45am and I saw a white man on the ground and he was being given CPR, trying to save his life.’
An elderly resident of the street told MailOnline: ‘I didn’t hear anything last night but there were lots of police here when I looked out this morning.’
The Met confirmed the next of kin of the man who died have been informed, though the he has not yet been formally identified. A post-mortem examination will be scheduled.
Scotland Yard confirmed the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command was investigating.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting CAD214/4Apr. To remain anonymous they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
H/t reader squodgy:
“The British Police are as stupid as the American ones.
What sort of signal does this action send to potential burglars?
It’s OK boys, we got him, so try again and let’s see if the crime rate can rise to new records.”
“This blog makes sense to me.
Never call the cops
Here is some common sense
Does a thief tell his wife, kids etc. , “hey Im going out stealing tonight, and if I dont come home call the cops and tell them where i was?”
No ..thieves do not do this!
So if you wack one , who’s to know he was at your place ? No one unless you cant STFU.
Why would cops come asking ?
They wouldn’t be out looking for the thief at your place either, especially as they’ve told the general public not to bother them with burglaries.
Remember this & do a good job of cleaning up, use bleach.
Have a cup of tea coffee , and think of it as a community service.”
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