Burglar who died trying to rob a pensioner came from a family of criminals who conned old people for a living

Burglar who died trying to rob a pensioner came from a family of criminals who conned old people for a living
Henry Vincent Jr. died after a failed robbery in Kent (Kent Police)

This burglar thought robbing a pensioner would be a piece of cake but it turned out to be a costly mistake. The man was stabbed and died after he fought a pensioner into whose home he had broken into. Turns out he was not a small-time burglar but a prolific criminal who, along with his family, had earlier conned old people out of almost £500,000.

Henry Vincent Jr., the burglar, died of the stab wound after the burglary at 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks' south London home that he shared with his wife Maureen. Vincent broke in on April 3 night along with another man who is still on the run, reports Daily Mail.

37-year-old Vincent was on the "most wanted" list at one point and his identity was revealed by the authorities as certain details of his criminal past started emerging. 

Members of Vincent's family were sentenced to jail at the Croydon Crown Court in 2003 for almost 29 years after the lot of them conned senior citizens out of £448,180. Vincent himself was part of a gang with his father and five of his uncles. The group operated their con business out of Kent and south London.


The men would knock on doors of the pensioners and say that the old people had structural problems with their home. They would then promise them that they would fix the imaginary problem for large sums of money. The devious men would then take the victims to their banks so that they could withdraw cash to pay for the job.

The reports revealed that the two of the uncles convinced a woman in her eighties to sign away her £150,000 home to them. The group confessed to deception charges after they managed to con homeowners out of the £448,180.

Vincent was put behind bars for four-and-a-half years, his father, Henry Charles Vincent - five-and-a-half years, his uncle, Clifford Vincent - four-and-a-half years, David Vincent - six years, Robert Vincent - four-and-a-half years, John Jack Vincent - two years, and Steven Vincent - 21 months.

Vincent's father was masquerading as a builder and he was put behind bars for six years in 2011 after a conviction of fraud. He had apparently done roof repairs with his son. The pair conned and 81-year-old man and took more than £72,000 just to change one tile on the roof which cost just £50. Henry Jr. got a six-year sentence in 2009. Vincent's uncle, Robert, was jailed for five years and three months in 2017 after he conned an elderly man to sign over his property.


He had already made the man give him £14,000 for alleged work that was done in the house.

In November 2017, Henry Jr. was pursued by detectives for a burglary that he had committed as a distraction. A man in his 70s was the target of the incident that took place in Farningham, Kent. A woman who was weeping came to the front door of the elderly man and said she had been attacked. After the woman left, however, he found that his front door was open and that a box filled with jewelry was empty.

The Daily Telegraph had heard from a close relative of Henry Jr. that he was actually a "gentle giant" and that he had "got in with the wrong crowd". They said: "Henry got in with the crowd. He used to be a good professional boxer. He was wrong to do a burglary, I agree, but he didn't deserve to die because of it. He was a gentle giant with three beautiful girls and what happened to him was wrong."

Henry Jr. was featured on the Kent Police's "most wanted" list at the time that he was wanted for another burglary that took place in Gravesend.  Scotland Yard released information about his death saying: "Henry suffered a stab wound to the upper body. He was taken by the London Ambulance Service to a central London hospital where he was pronounced dead at 03:37hrs. A postmortem examination has given a provisional cause of death as a stab wound."


Neighbors, friends, and even members of the public showed an immense amount of support for Osborn-Brooks. Celebrities including TV Dragon Duncan Bannatyne slammed the authorities for arresting the pensioner and spread the hashtag #FreeRichardOsbornBrooks which has gone viral on Twitter.

Nick Myatt, one of the neighbors, said: "He's a lovely old man and he cares for his wife, who I think has dementia or is disabled. He's a nice man, nice to talk to. I hope the law sees sense and lets him off. I don't think it's right."

Osborn-Brooks has now been freed from the police station near his home in Hither Green, which is in south-east London. He is still under investigation by detectives. The authorities have told him to go back at a date in early May. 63-year-old local resident, Val Barclay, said of the man: "He deserves a medal. You can't break into people's houses, especially when he's a carer for his wife and they were in bed. This is a pensioner who has worked all his life and wants to live and die quietly."


Tony Guest, a friend of Osborn-Brooks, wrote on social media: "So this is British justice is it? Where is our protection? The old man deserves a medal and to be let free. Now you know why America has guns."

Detectives were seen opening up the drains in the street on April 6 morning in a search for any weapons or other clues that will help in the case.

Moyo Ojo, one of the neighbors who lived next door to the pensioner couple, said that he could hear a struggle happening between Osborn Brooks and Henry Jr. "I heard the shouts of the struggle," he said. "There were a number of voices, some screams but I couldn't make out the words."

"That kitchen is very small he wouldn't have had the opportunity to run. He is an old man but it's fight or flight. It's unfortunate that he was put in that kind of situation." Zoe Brooks, Osborn-Brooks' cousin, felt thankful for the news in the morning that he had been released from jail and spoke of the viral support that he had received since the incident.


She spoke to the Evening Standard saying: "Of course everyone is shocked. He has a lot of support. His release is great news. But we know as much as you at the moment."

A GoFundMe page, that was set up to help Osborn-Brooks with his legal fees, has been doing phenomenally well and had already crossed the target of £3,000 by collecting almost £6,000. This means that the old man has at least a month to see if the police want to charge him. The authorities are still on the lookout for the second suspect who fled the scene. They have asked the public for help in nabbing the unknown man.

The lead investigator of the case, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding, said in the morning: "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 to contact our incident room as soon as possible."

After the elderly man was arrested, Clem Williams, a neighbor, defended him saying that the pensioner had every right to defend his home said it was men who were in his house who need to be questioned. Officers and paramedics who responded to the scene tried to save Henry Jr., who was stripped of his clothes. They tried to stop the bleeding which came from a single wound. He was taken to a local hospital but died at 3:37 in the morning.

Panicked residents said that they had been woken up by the moans of Henry Jr. In what normally a quiet road, the sounds coming from the street were quite strange indeed.

44-year-old Gordon Williams said: "I had just gone to bed and I heard moaning and groaning.  At first I thought this man was drunk, but when I looked out of the window I saw a white Vauxhall Astra van pulled up beside him."


"A black man was saying to the guy on the ground, 'Come on, get in the van'. He was trying to drag him but it wasn't working." He then added: "The black guy then looked up to my window and saw me, so he ran back into the van and drove off. My wife heard the clang of metal on the ground and saw him throw something out of the van's window. The man on the ground was white and was bleeding heavily from his chest. The wound was an inch long."

Police have not confirmed if the weapon used to stab Henry Jr. was the screwdriver, that had been used to march Osborn-Brooks into his own kitchen by the burglar while the other man was stealing things from upstairs. 

Osborn-Brooks was seen being led into a police car in handcuffs and he had bruising on his arms. The elderly man was initially arrested on the suspicion of grievous bodily harm but it was changed to suspicion of murder after Henry Jr. died in the hospital.

Friends spoke about their shock at Osborn-Brooks' arrest and described him as a "gentle" retired RAC office manager. The man was also said to be devoted to his wife Maureen, who has dementia, and he was a "typical English gentleman". Many of his acquaintances, neighbors and former coworkers had only good things to say about Osborn-Brooks and described him in glowing terms like being "more of a friend than a boss", "being a very calm person and being as "nice as pie"


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