Coroner Rules Pensioner Stabbing Burglar To Death Was 'Lawful Killing'
Pensioner Richard Osborn-Brooks' stabbing of burglar Henry Vincent has been ruled a 'lawful killing', an inquest has heard.
Mr Vincent, 37, died from a single knife wound during a burglary at the then 78-year-old Mr Osborn-Brooks' home in in south east London in 2018.
The OAP, now 79, told the inquest at Southwark Coroners Court that he had 'no recollection' of the stabbing but that he grabbed the knife in order to protect his wife.
The inquest heard Mr Osborn-Brooks was cornered by one of the thieves in his kitchen after two accomplices forced their way through the front door of his home.
He grabbed a kitchen knife and scared Vincent's accomplice off, but Vincent then came down the stairs brandishing a screwdriver.
Giving evidence via video-link with the screen turned off, Mr Osborn-Brooks was asked why he told Vincent: "Mine is bigger than yours and if you don't leave my house you'll be sorry.
"I thought he would look at my knife and see it was bigger than my implement and he would take the opportunity to run out the front door which was now wide open.
"My only intention was to get him out of my house and away from my wife.
"I didn't think [the knife] was likely to be used. I hoped it wouldn't be necessary. It was just to frighten them."
Senior coroner presiding over the hearing, Andrew Harris, asked the witness: "What was in your mind when you picked up the knife?"
Mr Osborn-Brooks replied: "I just wanted to threaten him and make him go away."
The pensioner told the court that he never meant to stab the intruder and that Mr Vincent ran onto it.
He said: "I still think that Mr Vincent rushed forward intending to do me harm and he ran up to the knife which I was holding between us.
"[The knife] went in easily and came out easily. I stepped away from him and that's when the knife came out. I saw blood running on his clothes."
In a witness statement, Mr Osborn-Brooks claimed he got hold of the 'biggest knife' from a block and brandished it at Vincent's accomplice after the two forced their way in.
He said: "Through the patterned frosted glass I could see a white face. I opened it and it turned out to be a masked man wearing a white grey balaclava with eye holes.
"He pushed the door open pushed me back grabbed hold of my right hand and my right arm and pushed me down and away towards the kitchen.
"The other man behind him ran upstairs to the bedrooms. Then he 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.
"I said 'I have a heart condition I need my pills they are in a drawer over there I need my pills'.
"That gave me time to go over to the sink and grab a knife. Turned out to be the biggest one because it's the first one - the handle was easiest to get hold of."
Mr Osborn-Brooks said in his statement that he told Mr Vincent's 'bastard' accomplice to get out of his house he would suffer 'worse'.
After the second burglar ran out of the house, the homeowner told the court that he closed the door and turned round to see Mr Vincent stood at the top of the stairs, who then 'ran' at him.
He said: "I opened the front doors so that he could get out. I thought if I opened the front door he will run straight out.
"I expected him to push the door open and carry on and go out the porch door but he didn't do that.
"I was standing in the hall with my back against the hall leading into the front door and he was about three feet or four feet away at the bottom of the stairs.
"He then 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 of the front door."
He added that Mr Vincent was holding the screwdriver at 'waist' height.
He told the coroner: "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 stabbing him I was just standing there passively holding it."
Mr Harris then said: "You are seen to say that you stabbed him and demonstrated with your right hand a forward movement which the officer saw and you've had played to you.
"There is therefore a difference in account to that which you gave at the time to the officer and in this interview and my question is why?"
Mr Osborn-Brooks said: "I don't recall the conversation with the officer in the kitchen. I was still shaking with the effects of what had occurred. And as I say I have no recollection of trying to stab someone theatrically.
"I wasn't aware that there was any body cam footage. None of the police had ever told me that it was recorded."
Harris ruled Mr Vincent was lawfully killed.
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