A 78-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a suspected burglar was stabbed to death.
Yet friends and neighbours of the OAP, Richard Osborn-Brooks, of South Park Crescent, Hither Green, south-east London, say he was just protecting himself.
Osborn-Brooks, was in bed with his wife when he heard two men breaking into his house at 12.45am yesterday, April 4. One suspected intruder, armed with a screwdriver, forced Osborn-Brooks into his kitchen where a struggle ensued.
Scotland Yard said the 38-year-old was stabbed in the altercation, taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 03:40am.
Police said they were called to the property over reports of a burglary when they found the man collapsed in nearby Further Green Road with a stab wound to the upper body. Eye-witnesses say they saw the man ‘covered in blood’.
Osborn-Brooks, who suffered bruising to his arms, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody at a south London police station while the second intruder remains at large.
One of Osborn-Brooks’ friends, Tony Guest, worked with him at the RAC in Croydon during the late 1970s, and says he doesn’t deserve to be punished for defending himself.
He told the Mirror:
I was shocked when someone told me it was Richard involved in this incident. He has every right to protect his property, he deserves a medal.
Recalling their time at work, he continued:
He would finish working and come down and work the machines with us.
We’d have a game of chess at lunch time and he’d come for a beer with us after work, or a nightclub. He wasn’t like the rest of the bosses, he would stick up for us and was part of the team.
He was ahead of his time and a very intelligent person.
Adam Lake, who lives near the scene, said:
He doesn’t deserve to be punished for defending himself, and the neighbours I’ve spoken to all agree the priority needs to be to support him after everything he’s been through.
He was just protecting himself after all. When I heard it was a burglary I wasn’t surprised, there’s been a noticeable increase in crime in the area.
We’ve even had to put up CCTV at home because we didn’t feel safe. Such an awful event, I feel terrible for the man that was burgled.
Online petitions have been established to support Osborn-Brooks, who’s believed to be a full-time carer for his wife.
The CPS and police urge people to always call the police first – if you are able – in an intruder situation, but according to official guidance, anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves.
As a general rule, the more extreme the circumstances and the fear felt, the more force you can lawfully use in self-defence.
The law doesn’t require you to wait to be attacked before using defensive force, but does not protect you if, for example, your action is over-the-top or calculated revenge.
You are given greater protection under the law if force is used to protect yourself or others when dealing with a burglar or trespasser on your property.
The CPS says if you have acted in reasonable self-defence, as described above, and the intruder dies you will still have acted lawfully.
Use of ‘disproportionate force’ could see you facing charges. A manhunt is under way to find the second suspect.
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