Mine’s big­ger than yours...

Faced with screw­driver-wield­ing bur­glar in his home, ter­ri­fied OAP grabbed a 12-inch kitchen knife to de­fend him­self and warned him...

Daily Mail - - News - By Arthur Martin

‘I didn’t in­tend to stab him’

THE pen­sioner who fa­tally stabbed a se­rial bur­glar in his home spoke for the first time yes­ter­day about his des­per­ate strug­gle to pro­tect his frail wife.

Richard Os­born-Brooks, now liv­ing in a se­cret lo­ca­tion, said he felt ‘help­less and ter­ri­fied’ when two men in bal­a­clavas raided his house at night.

The 79- year- old said he grabbed a 12- inch kitchen knife and threat­ened ca­reer crim­i­nal Henry Vin­cent, who was armed with a screw­driver.

Vin­cent, who had re­cently taken co­caine and heroin, shouted: ‘Come near me and I’ll stick you.’

Pen­sioner Mr Os­born-Brooks, who has a heart con­di­tion, replied ‘mine is big­ger than yours’ be­fore stab­bing the bur­glar in the chest in the hall­way of his £500,000 home in Hither Green, south-east Lon­don.

Vin­cent, 37, stag­gered out of the house and died in hos­pi­tal three hours later.

Mr Os­born-Brooks spoke for the first time about the events that night when he gave ev­i­dence via vide­olink at the in­quest into Vin­cent’s death in South­wark Coro­ner’s Court yes­ter­day, where coro­ner An­drew Har­ris ruled that the ca­reer crim­i­nal had been law­fully killed.

Mr Os­born-Brooks’s face was ob­scured so no one – not even Mr Har­ris – could see him.

Re­call­ing his emo­tions that night, he said: ‘I wanted him out the house and away from my wife. It is not an ex­pe­ri­ence I had ever had be­fore and never wish to have again.

‘I have never been in a cir­cum­stance like that be­fore. I felt ter­ri­fied, help­less. I just wanted to threaten him and make him go away.’

Asked what he felt ter­ri­fied about, he said: ‘Mainly that they would hurt my wife. That if they still con­tinue to think that we had money in the house, that they might do some­thing to her to make me give it up. But we didn’t have any money in the house to give up.’

Mr Os­born-Brooks, a re­tired RAC man­ager, was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of mur­der, only to be re­leased with­out charge within days. He sub­se­quently faced death threats from Vin­cent’s as­so­ci­ates in the trav­el­ling com­mu­nity and was warned by po­lice he could not re­turn to the house he and his wife Mau­reen, 77, had lived in for al­most 42 years.

The pen­sioner was up­stairs with his wife when they were dis­turbed by a knock on the front door shortly af­ter mid­night on April 4 last year.

When Mr Os­born- Brooks an­swered the door he was forced back­wards by Vin­cent and ac­com­plice Billy Jeeves, who were wear­ing black hood­ies and grey bal­a­clavas.

The pen­sioner was grabbed by the arm and forced back into the kitchen where he was cor­nered by Jeeves, 28. Vin­cent raced up­stairs and started look­ing for valu­ables.

Fear­ing for his wife’s safety, Mr Os­born-Brooks pulled the big­gest knife from a block of six on the kitchen counter.

He said: ‘[Jeeves] started yelling, “give me money, give me money, we know you have got money”. And I said, “we haven’t got any in the house, we are pen­sion­ers, we haven’t got any money”. He said, “yes, I know you have” and he pushed me into the kitchen.’

Mr Os­born-Brooks tried to dis­tract Jeeves by ask­ing him to get his heart pills from a kitchen drawer.

‘That gave me time to go over to the sink and grab a knife,’ he said. ‘It turned out to be the

big­gest one be­cause it’s the first one – the han­dle was eas­i­est to get hold of.’ Hold­ing the knife at head­height, the pen­sioner told Jeeves: ‘Get out my house you b*****d, or it will be worse for you.’

He told the court: ‘I just meant that I would re­port him for break­ing in and I wanted him to leave the house. It was purely a threat­en­ing move – I didn’t in­tend to stab him at all.’

Jeeves shouted up­stairs to Vin­cent that the pen­sioner ‘ had a knife’ and ran to­wards the front door. Jeeves was later ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of bur­glary be­fore be­ing re­leased with­out charge.

Af­ter his ac­com­plice fled, Vin­cent ran down­stairs and con­fronted Mr Os­born-Brooks in the hall­way with a screw­driver.

He said: ‘My wife went to the top of the stairs and yelled at him. He came run­ning down the stairs and I opened the front door so that he could get out. I thought if I opened the front door he will run straight out. But he didn’t do that. He bran­dished a screw­driver at me and said, “Get out my way or I’ll stick you with this”.

‘I was hold­ing the knife at chest height with my arm against my body be­cause I wanted to leave him room to get out.

‘I moved my body for­ward as I was stuck up to the wall and he was com­ing to­ward me. I was ter­ri­fied, I couldn’t move. I didn’t know whether he was go­ing to stick me with it. I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of stab­bing him. I was just stand­ing there pas­sively hold­ing [the knife].’

Mr Os­born-Brooks later gave dif­fer­ent ac­counts to the po­lice about the stab­bing.

In one, he told of­fi­cers Vin­cent was stabbed be­cause he walked into the blade. But in an­other ac­count, he said he pushed the knife to­wards the bur­glar.

Se­nior coro­ner An­drew Har­ris ruled that there was a si­mul­ta­ne­ous move­ment of both men to­wards each other which led to the stab­bing. Ear­lier, Vin­cent’s sis­ter Rosie Vin­cent told the court that her brother was ‘not a vi­o­lent man’. She added: ‘He was a father, he was a son, and he was a brother, and no one de­serves to die.’

How­ever, Vin­cent and his as­so­ci­ates were no­to­ri­ous for their re­peated at­tempts to steal from the el­derly.

In a par­tic­u­larly cal­lous post on so­cial me­dia, one of his clan wrote: ‘An OAP a day keeps ur bank bal­ance at bay. The old b****** s de­serve ev­ery­thing they get.’

Just 31 hours be­fore he was killed, Vin­cent was caught snoop­ing around the grounds of an­other house in the vil­lage of Farn­ing­ham in Kent. The crim­i­nal was con­fronted by the home­owner who said he ap­peared to be ‘scan­ning the house from side to side’.

Crime scene: Mr Os­born-Brooks’s home in Hither Green

Self-de­fence: Richard Os­born­Brooks, main picture, killed Henry Vin­cent, top. Above: Vin­cent’s mother Rose Lee, left, yes­ter­day

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