The suspected burglar stabbed to death by a pensioner was previously being hunted by police in January for a distraction burglary where a man in his 70s was targeted.
Henry Vincent, 37, also appeared on Kent Police’s ‘most wanted’ list in 2013 in connection to another incident.
Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, was arrested this week on suspicion of murder after fatally wounding Vincent at his home on Wednesday in South Park Crescent in Hither Green, south-east London.
Neighbours have said he should not be prosecuted.
Osborn-Brokes was released on bail on Thursday as the suspected burglar involved, Henry Vincent, was named by police and pictured for the first time.
A courier arrived at the police cordon in South Park Crescent today with some flowers addressed to Osborn-Brooks’s home and a passer-by left a bunch of flowers at the police cordon on Further Green Road, yards from where the suspected intruder fell.
The Metropolitan Police said one suspect armed with a screwdriver forced the homeowner into his kitchen when he discovered them around 12.45am on Wednesday, while his accomplice went upstairs.
Detectives believe a struggle then ensued between “one of the males and the homeowner” and the intruder, 37, was stabbed in the upper body. They refused to confirm whether the suspect had been stabbed with the screwdriver.
Neighbours of Osborn-Brooks defended his actions, saying he should not be punished for protecting himself.
Adam Lake, who lives near the scene, said he did not feel safe from crime in the area. He said: “He doesn’t deserve to be punished for defending himself, and the neighbours that I’ve spoken to all agree that the priority needs to be to support him after everything that he’s been through.
“He was just protecting himself after all.”
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, supported his right to defend the neighbourhood. The 12-year resident of South Park Crescent said she recognised the pensioner’s face but did not know him. “He deserves a medal. You cannot break into people’s houses.
“(I’ve heard) he’s a carer, this is a pensioner that has worked all his life who wants to live and die quietly.
“I lived in America, if this was in America this wouldn’t be a big issue.”
An eyewitness said one of the suspected burglars dragged the injured man towards a van before leaving him.
He was found collapsed in nearby Further Green Road by paramedics from London Ambulance Service, who took him to a central London hospital where he died at 3.37am.
A witness, who lives in the road, told the Press Association he saw an accomplice try to rescue the suspect just before midnight before fleeing the scene.
He recalled seeing a white Vauxhall Astra van pull up next to a man “moaning and groaning” on the street who was “bleeding heavily from his chest through his shirt”.
The witness added: “People have been talking about a screwdriver but this wasn’t a screwdriver wound, this was a knife. The wound was an inch long.
“I think that it was a knife and I think from what my partner said that the black guy (the driver) pulled it out and threw it away.
“The man on the ground was wearing a blue T-shirt and it was pulled up. I think he was dead already. His pupils were completely dilated.”
The second suspect fled the scene and has yet to be found.
The pensioner, who suffered bruising to his arms, was initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm but was further arrested on suspicion of murder, the Met said.
At least five forensic officers entered the house, guarded by police, on South Park Crescent just before 1pm on Wednesday.
A large purple forensic tent was erected by the front door.
The dead suspect’s next of kin have been informed. A post-mortem examination will be carried out in due course.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.