Heavy police presence as funeral held for stabbed burglar

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There was a heavy police presence at the funeral of stabbed burglar Henry Vincent as tempers flared among mourners.

The body of Vincent – fatally stabbed by a pensioner whose home he was burgling – was carried in a silver Mercedes with a white floral arrangement spelling out “Daddy” next to the coffin.

It was followed by a long convoy of vehicles, each with its own floral tribute on top, including a caravan and a boxing ring.

Vincent died from a stab wound inflicted by Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, at his home in Hither Green, south east London, on April 4.

The procession did several loops of the area, with Vincent’s loved ones walking behind during the final stretch.

Police warned the public and journalists to leave the area near St Mary’s Church in St Mary Cray, south east London, where a service for the 37-year-old was to be held.

Police presence outside the home of Richard Osborn-Brooks in South Park Crescent (David Mirzoeff/PA)
Police presence outside the home of Richard Osborn-Brooks in South Park Crescent (David Mirzoeff/PA)

A member of the public passing along a road opposite the church claimed he had been hit by an egg in the moments before the procession did a loop.

The man said he had been returning from a job interview and was struck on the leg by the egg.

He said he would be making a complaint to the police, saying: “I’m lucky I’m on the way back from a job interview, not to it.”

He added: “I’m not having that.”

Earlier, a large police presence arrived outside the church amid fears of trouble.

A passenger gestures from a vehicle that forms part of the funeral cortege of burglar Henry Vincent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A passenger gestures from a funeral vehicle (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Concern has been brewing that the intruder’s final send-off could descend into an ugly confrontation between the bereaved and supporters of Mr Osborn-Brooks.

In the wake of the killing, a bitter row developed over a shrine set up in Vincent’s memory opposite the house, which was repeatedly desecrated.

Despite police reassurance that the funeral procession would not enter into Lewisham, one resident used his car to block the entrance to South Park Crescent in Hither Green on Thursday morning, near where Vincent was stabbed last month.

Another man, who would not say if he was local to the area, arrived with a portrait he had drawn of Vincent, and claimed police had told him he was on a ‘hit list’ after removing flowers from the scene in the aftermath of the killing.

Flowers are displayed on the back of a vehicle that forms part of the funeral cortege of burglar Henry Vincent (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Many floral tributes were on display ahead of the funeral (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Gordon said the outrage which followed the circumstances around Vincent’s death had shown a defiance in the community.

He said: “It’s good that there’s enough humanity within the general population that they’re willing to stand up and say ‘we’ve had enough of this crime’. We’re not going to tolerate it. People climbing into other people’s houses.”

Police circled the area throughout the morning, and a van with a number of officers inside remained parked up in the residential area into the afternoon.

Mr Osborn-Brooks was initially arrested on suspicion of murder but was later released without charge.

The pensioner’s arrest provoked a public outcry, and an online fundraising campaign in support of the pensioner subsequently raised thousands of pounds.

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