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Tensions rise as stand-off between relatives and locals over shrine to stabbed Hither Green burglar continues

Police have responded to rising tensions over floral tributes laid for a burglar killed in Hither Green last week.

The Lewisham Borough commander says a "small police presence" has been introduced to the area to reassure residents who voiced concerns about flowers laid by Henry Vincent's family.

Chief Superintendent Simon Dobinson said: “I do not want anyone to feel intimidated or that they are not being allowed to respond in a dignified way to a tragic death."

Relatives of Vincent tied flowers to a fence opposite the home of Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, who confronted Vincent during a break-in at his home last week, for a third time this week.

The tributes, which include balloons and cards, were once again torn down by a furious vigilante.

Dobinson said: “We would urge members of the public to respect the wishes of those who choose to place flowers and other tributes in the area.

“We would also request those placing tributes or visiting the area to behave in a responsible manner so as not to disrupt the local community."

Mr Osborn-Brooks, who was arrested after Vincent's death but later released without charge, has been hailed a hero by some for taking on the burglar and his accomplice, who police are still trying to trace.

The shrine to Vincent have angered some local residents who say they are "inappropriate" and "in poor taste".

Local campaigner, Iain Gordon, tore the latest lot of bouquets off the fence on Wednesday, in front of photographers.

Tributes left to Henry Vincent in Hither Green. Credit: PA

Mr Gordon said: "These people are scum bags, scum bags, scum bags.

"If you don't know why I pulled the flowers down then you aren't a human being. Would you go around allowing someone to stab your parents? Would you allow someone to come round with a screwdriver? And then be considered human beings?"

Vincent and his accomplice were armed with a screwdriver when they broke into Mr Osborn-Brooks's home in the early hours of last Wednesday. During a struggle in the kitchen, Vincent was stabbed in the upper body.

Later it was revealed Vincent had been wanted over another suspected break-in at a pensioner's home.