Richard Osborn-Brooks, a 78-year-old London man initially arrested for killing a home invader, has been released and will face no further legal action.
The Evening Standard reports that Osborn-Brooks and his wife were asleep at their southeast London home last Wednesday when he was awoken by suspicious noises. He went downstairs to investigate and encountered two prowlers inside his residence.
One of the suspects was armed with a screwdriver. He ordered Osborn-Brooks into the kitchen while his accomplice went upstairs, where Osborn-Brooks’ wife Maureen—who is 76 and suffers from dementia—was sleeping.
At some point during the home invasion, a fight broke out between Osborn-Brooks and the armed intruder. Scotland Yard says the suspect sustained a stab wound to his upper body during the struggle. It’s unknown if the wound came from the suspect’s screwdriver or another weapon.
The wounded intruder attempted to flee the scene, but he collapsed in the street outside the front door. He was transported to a hospital in central London, where he died of his injuries a few hours later.
The second suspect took off in a van after attempting to grab the wounded suspect and put him in the getaway vehicle. He is still at large.
Osborn-Brooks, who sustained bruises to his arms, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. He was then further arrested on suspicion of murder, Sky News reported. He’s since been released on bail pending the results of the investigation.
Support for Richard Osborn-Brooks
News of Osborn-Brooks’ arrest sparked outrage in the local community.
“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,” neighbor Adam Lake said. “He was just protecting himself after all.”
Another neighbor praised Osborn-Brooks’ actions.
“He deserves a medal,” the neighbor said. “You cannot break into people’s houses.”
Neighborhood watch member Sylbourne Sydial agreed.
“A man should be able to defend his home. It’s not as if to say he had a cutlass or a machete or a knife. Your home is your castle and I believe your neighbourhood is your kingdom,” Sydial said.
Norman Brennan, a former police officer who now represents victims groups, told the Telegraph that police were “required” to arrest Osborn-Brooks while they determined whether or not he acted in self defense. He added he would be “amazed” if Osborn-Brooks were actually charged for the killing.
“The law says that a person can use reasonable force when defending himself, his family or property. If the intruder is running away the threat has diminished but if that person stays where they are that’s an assault and if they are armed with a weapon then it would be regarded as aggravating circumstances,” Brennan said, adding that he “cannot see any jury convicting someone in a case where the householder, for example, takes a knife and in a struggle with the burglar injures him.”
The decreased suspect has been identified as 37-year-old Henry Vincent, a career criminal who was recently wanted in connection with the burglary of another elderly victim.
Two days after being arrested, Osborn-Brooks was released by police. He will not face any charges for his actions.