Journalists and photographers have been forced to leave the scene of the Hither Green burglar Henry Vincent’s funeral, after rocks and eggs were thrown at the press.
Police outside St Mary’s Church in Orpington, Kent, told reporters to leave, warning there could be violence if they were still present when the funeral procession arrived.
An egg was thrown at the press by man thought to be a mourner, while others shouted abuse and shouted at reporters to leave.
A member of the public passing the road claimed he had also been hit by an egg in the moments beforehand. The man said he had been returning from a job interview and was struck on the leg.
He told the Press Association he would be making a complaint to the police, saying: “I’m lucky I’m on the way back from a job interview, not to it.”
Meanwhile, a rock was also thrown at a broadcast van near the church, though it was not clear if the man was attending the funeral.
The tense scenes come after Hither Green residents attempted to block off the street where Vincent was fatally attacked during an alleged robbery attempt, over fears his family could bring his funeral cortege down the road.
The 37-year-old died following a struggle with pensioner Richard Osborn-Brooks during a home invasion in the early hours of April 4.
Despite assurances from the police that the funeral procession will not travel through South Park Crescent, on Thursday morning neighbours of 78-year-old Osborn-Brooks made an attempt to block off the road to cars.
One resident, who gave his name only as Dave, had parked his car at the end of the crescent, saying he would remain parked there unless he was replaced by a police vehicle.
“There is the possibility that they might bring the body down in a hearse first and do a pass-by and then go back and have the actual funeral (elsewhere),” the 57-year-old said.
“I think it’s a disgrace that they want to bring the funeral past after all the flower debacle. It’s just not on.”
Dave later left the scene, but a police van with a handful of officers inside parked near the entrance to the road.
There had been concerns that the intruder’s final send-off could descend into a confrontation between the bereaved and supporters of Osborn-Brooks.
In the wake of the killing, a bitter row developed over the shrine set up to Vincent’s memory opposite the house – and was repeatedly desecrated.
Iain Gordon, who said he previously removed flowers laid in tribute to Vincent at the scene of the crime, returned to Hither Green in protest at the possibility the funeral procession may pass the house.
Gordon, who did not wish to say where he was from, brought a portrait he had drawn of Vincent. Holding it up, he said: “This is a man that could’ve been a professional boxer. He could’ve had a good living from being a professional boxer. But he was taken on the road to crime.”
Scotland Yard confirmed patrols would be stepped up around South Park Crescent on the day of the funeral for “community assurance”. However, the funeral procession is not expected to enter the borough of Lewisham, where he died.
The Story So Far
Burglar Henry Vincent died on April 4 after entering the home of 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks.
The OAP, who was at home with his wife at the time of the burglary, was threatened with a screwdriver and a struggle ensued between him and one of the intruders.
Vincent, from Kent, was found collapsed on Further Green Road, suffering a stab wound to the upper body.
He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 3.30am.
A post-mortem examination has given a provisional cause of death as a stab wound.
Osborn-Brooks was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and further arrested on suspicion of murder. However, police later decided to take no further action.
His arrest sparked widespread condemnation and an online fundraising campaign.