Pensioner arrested over death of burglar 'may have been protecting ill wife'
A British pensioner arrested for murder after his home was allegedly burgled was protecting his wife, neighbours said yesterday.
Richard Osborn-Brooks (78) has been released on bail after being questioned for several hours following his arrest just after midnight on Wednesday.
It has now emerged he may have been trying to protect his wife, Maureen, when he was confronted by two intruders, one armed with a screwdriver, at his home in south east London.
One of the alleged burglars went upstairs while his accomplice scuffled with Mr Osborn-Brook.
The man was stabbed, then fled the house but died in the street outside, despite emergency services' efforts to save him.
Detectives investigating the death opened up drains in the street yesterday in an apparent bid to find weapons or any other clues in the case.
Neighbours said they thought Mrs Osborn-Brooks had been sleeping upstairs at the time of the alleged break-in.
Val Barclay (63) said: "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."
Nick Myatt, who lives close to the couple, said: "I saw him a few times.
"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. He's an old man.
"It's a shame really. I hope the law sees sense and let's him off."
The arrest of Mr Osborn-Brooks has sparked a debate over whether the law gives householders enough protection in the event of someone injuring or even killing an intruder.
A neighbour, who lives several doors away from him, described Mr Osborn-Brooks as a "nice guy".
The elderly man, who declined to give his name, said: "He's retired, but a nice guy. Keeps himself to himself, goes out shopping once a week and that's about it.
"He's been retired all the time I've been here - about 20 years. Nice as pie."