Memorial to Hither Green burglar repeatedly desecrated | London

A row over the memorial to burglar Henry Vincent has continued to deepen as tributes were torn down for a second time.

Relatives of the 37-year-old restored a desecrated shrine near the scene of his final raid, only for it to be wrecked within minutes.

A fence opposite the home of Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, has become an unlikely flashpoint of tensions between the grieving family and his neighbours since last week’s incident.

Balloons, cards and flowers were removed by supporters of the pensioner, with whom Vincent was involved in a struggle when he broke into the south-east London address on April 4.

On Tuesday afternoon, his loved ones returned to reattach the mementos opposite the property on South Park Crescent, Hither Green.

Elvina Lee, who said she was Vincent’s first cousin, called whoever pulled the tributes down “scum” and labelled Mr Osborn-Brooks a “lowlife”.

This is the best place for these flowers to be. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people (who dismantled them)… I think they’re scum.

– Elvina Lee, Vincent’s first cousin

But the whole memorial was down again within 20 minutes, removed by a man who said he was “taking these **** flowers down” calling it an “insult” to Mr Osborn-Brooks.

The man, who wore a beanie hat and did not give his name, added: “These need burning.”

The dispute came as a coroner returned the body of the burglar back to his family during an inquest opening on Tuesday.

Assistant coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe told two of Vincent’s female relatives during a hearing at Southwark Coroner’s Court: “I know you are having a dreadful time – I am releasing the body now.”

Video had earlier emerged online showing a man pulling floral tributes to Vincent down from fences.

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