Elderly UK man 'lawfully killed' armed burglar high on heroin, cocaine

The pensioner (right) claimed he unintentionally stabbed the burglar (left), who was high on Class A drugs. He wanted to scare the man away.
The pensioner (right) claimed he unintentionally stabbed the burglar (left), who was high on Class A drugs. He wanted to scare the man away. Photo credit: Kent Police

A burglar who was killed by an elderly man in London last year was lawfully killed, according to a coroner.

Henry Vincent, 37, was stabbed to death after breaking into Richard Osborn-Brooks' home in southeast London on April 4 last year.  Vincent and an accomplice broke into the home in the early hours of the morning, clad in balaclavas and carrying weapons. 

Osborn-Brooks claimed he didn't intentionally stab Vincent, but was concerned for the safety of his elderly wife Maureen. Vincent threatened Osborn-Brooks with a screwdriver, and Osborn-Brooks armed himself with his largest kitchen knife. The accomplice fled.

Osborn-Brooks warned the burglar that his weapon was "bigger than yours and if you don't leave my house you will be sorry," according to Metro. Osborn-Brooks told the inquest that Vincent ignored his warning, rushed towards him, and ran into the knife.

The altercation resulted in Osborn-Brooks fatally stabbing Vincent's upper chest with his 12-inch kitchen knife. Vincent was pronounced dead at the University Hospital Lewisham after earlier attempts at resuscitation.

Osborn-Brooks thought the threat of the knife would be enough to scare Vincent out of his property and away from his wife. He believed Vincent rushed towards him with the intent of causing harm.

Senior coroner Andrew Harris ruled the stabbing as a lawful killing on Thursday (UK time).  Harris said: "...It seems to me the combination of unpredictability and fear were factors that have to be taken into account considering the proportionality of the force that was used," Metro reports.

Osborn-Brooks was initially arrested on suspicion of murder, causing public outrage. He was later released without charge.

A toxicology report conducted by pathologist Simon Poole indicated that cocaine and heroin were both present in Vincent's post-mortem examination.  

Poole said it was likely Vincent was experiencing the effects of the drugs during the burglary.

Vincent's family and friends have defended Vincent. His mother reportedly told the hearing: "Why couldn't that gentleman have just stepped back like a normal person would have?"

Tributes from Vincent's loved ones, laid opposite Osborn-Brooks' home, were repeatedly torn down by outraged neighbours.

Vincent's sister told the hearing: "My brother was not a violent person...No one deserves to die."


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