War of the posies: Family of stabbed burglar Henry Vincent lay flowers in birthday vigil as elderly couple plan to sell Hither Green home

Martin Coulter

The row over tributes to a burglar who was stabbed to death mid-raid threatened to erupt once again as relatives lay flowers in honour of his birthday.

Around 20 women from the travelling community arrived at South Park Crescent in Hither Green to lay flowers close to the spot where Henry Vincent, 37, fell after being fatally injured in the home of 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks.

Mr Osborn-Brooks was arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of Vincent on April 4 but was later told he would face no further action.

Since the incident, Vincent's friends and family have sparked outrage among locals in the usually quiet south London neighbourhood by laying flowers and cards opposite the still boarded-up home of Mr Osborn-Brooks and his wife Maureen.

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The tributes have repeatedly been torn down by neighbours and well-wishers angry that the career criminal is being remembered in such a way, only to spring up again within days.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of around 20 women who said they were relatives of Vincent, arrived in the street with flowers, cards, balloons and a banner to celebrate his birthday.

They were escorted by five police officers who tried to stop them stapling the banners and balloons to the garden fences of homeowners.

Eventually the tributes were attached to the street sign itself and a lamppost.

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A 37-year-old woman, who didn't want to be named, said: "We're here because it's his birthday, we just want to lay flowers. We don't want to cause any violence."

She added: "We're not all criminals. We don't all do wrong."

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When asked how Vincent should be remembered, another woman said: "We all loved him."

The group refused to respond to reports that Vincent would be honoured with a £100,000 funeral, or that the cortege would pass by Mr Osborn-Brooks' home.

Mr and Mrs Osborn-Brooks are reportedly living in a safe house and plan to sell their property.

More than 100 bouquets as well as cards, teddies and balloons have been repeatedly put up and torn down from the fence.

Iain Gordon pulls the flowers down from a fence opposite the house (PA)

Last week an angry Iain Gordon, who said he was part of the Fair Society group, pulled down tributes as he declared “we’ve had enough”.

The incident follows one the previous evening in which a hooded man ripped down half of the flowers.

A man in a beanie hat was photographed tearing down the shrine on Tuesday afternoon while a vigilante going by the alias Cecil Coley stormed to area on Monday night.

The 29-year-old told the Standard in an interview: “I found [the shrine] to be really disgusting, especially for residents living in the area who were probably friends with Mr Osborn-Brooks. They probably think Henry Vincent got what he deserved.

“A lot of the local residents felt intimidated. It is not appropriate. It is a sign of Henry Vincent’s family marking their territory."

Additional reporting by the Press Association