By Terri-ann Williams For Mailonline
Published: 07:27 BST, 3 May 2019 | Updated: 07:28 BST, 3 May 2019
Retired RAC boss Richard Osborn-Brooks had lived with his wife Maureen on the suburban street in Hither Green for 42 years.
Despite being a key member of the community, he and his wife were driven out after he 'lawfully killed' burglar Henry Vincent who raided their home.
He was described as a 'traditional Englishman' and was popular among neighbours after contributing towards a scheme to reduce burglary in the area.
Tony Guest, who worked with Mr Osborn-Brooks in the 1970s at the offices of the RAC in Croydon, said he was an office manager in the membership department, but had been 'more of a friend than a boss'.
Richard Osborn-Brooks, 79, (pictured) knifed career criminal Henry Vincent, 32, after he caught him breaking into his home in South Park Crescent, Hither Green, on April 4 last year
'He was gentle and very intelligent, probably too intelligent for the job he was doing then,' he added. 'He was never rowing or shouting at people. He was a very calm person. He used to play chess, he always liked his games.'
Pictures of Mr Osborn-Brooks suggested he enjoyed games and puzzles such as solitaire, as well as socialising with friends.
Neighbour Nick Myatt said at the time of the incident: '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.'
Another said he was seen popping to the shops once a week but kept himself to himself and was 'as nice as pie'.
Mr Osborn-Brooks was woken in the early hours of April 4 by two men breaking into the 1920s terraced house in Hither