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Ministry of Justice: Householders can protect themselves if in fear of death

Mr Osborn-Brooks has been bailed pending further inquiries.

The Ministry of Justice has reiterated that a householder has the right to defend their family from intruders if they believe their lives are in danger following the death of a burglar during an armed raid.

Henry Vincent, 37, died after being stabbed during a botched raid at the south-east London property of Richard Osborn-Brooks in the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Osborn-Brooks was arrested on suspicion of murder and released on bail pending further inquiries on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said.

If a householder believes their life or the lives of their family are in danger, and they act in self-defence, they would not ordinarily be convicted of an offence Ministry of Justice spokeswoman

The arrest of the 78-year-old provoked outcry from neighbours and an online fundraising campaign which gathered hundreds of pounds in several hours.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “While we cannot comment on specific cases, our sympathies are with householders who have to defend themselves when intruders break in.

“That’s why we strengthened the law in 2013 to give householders greater protection from intruders.

“Those changes make it clear that if a householder believes their life or the lives of their family are in danger, and they act in self-defence, they would not ordinarily be convicted of an offence.”

Henry Vincent was killed during a raid on a pensioner’s home in Hither Green, south east London (Kent Police/PA)

Tributes have been paid to Vincent, from Kent, by family and friends on social media, with one reading he will “never be forgotten”.

In January, he was named and pictured by Kent Police investigating a distraction burglary when jewellery and valuables were stolen from a man in his 70s.

During the botched raid in Park Crescent, Hither Green, an accomplice dragged Vincent toward a van before leaving him for dead, according to a witness.

Forensic officers have been working at the scene in Hither Green, London (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He was found collapsed in nearby Further Green Road by paramedics from London Ambulance Service, who took him to hospital where he died shortly before 4am.

The second man has not been found and at least one suspect was believed to be armed with a screwdriver, police said.

Detectives think a struggle took place between one of the burglars and the elderly homeowner before Vincent was stabbed in the upper body, but would not confirm if he was stabbed with the screwdriver.

Adam Lake, who lives near the scene, said he did not feel safe from crime and defended Mr Osborn-Brooks.

He said: “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.”

Hither Green incident

Last night residents and councillors held a meeting behind closed doors discussing the aftermath of the attack which has left the community shaken.

DCI Simon Harding, leading the investigation, said: “I would like to speak with anyone who has information regarding the outstanding suspect from the burglary, who is believed to be a white male; he may have told someone what happened at the address.

“It is possible that he fled the scene in a vehicle, possibly a white van, leaving the scene in the direction of Further Green Road. Did you see this vehicle? Do you know where it went after this? I ask anyone who can help to call our incident room as soon as possible.”

A Kent Police spokeswoman said the appeal over the distraction burglary expired in February but the investigation was ongoing.

She said: “Following an appeal for information, a man was arrested and released under investigation. ”

Anyone with information should contact the Incident Room on 020 8721 4205 or call 101 quoting reference CAD214/4Apr.

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