My Dad was never a man to pull his punches. When I left home aged 21, his farewell gift to me was his .22 rifle and a box of bullets.
‘Keep it under your bed,’ he said. ‘Loaded but with the safety catch on. Aim for the groin.’
Extreme you might think. (This was Australia in the Eighties when firearms laws were more relaxed). But it dinned into me the notion that your home is your castle, and everyone has an inalienable right to defend themselves against intruders.
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
No, I never shot at anyone and no longer have it, but memories of that rifle flooded back this week when a coroner ruled pensioner Richard Osborn-Brooks had ‘lawfully killed’ a burglar who broke into his home.
Two masked men forced their way into his house after midnight in April last year as his ailing wife lay upstairs in bed. Terrified, he did what most of us hope we would have the courage to do — grabbed a 12-inch kitchen knife and tried to get rid of them.
Henry Vincent, high on cocaine and heroin and armed with a screwdriver, was injured in the struggle and died three hours later.
Mr Osborn-Brooks was woken in the early hours of April 4 by two men breaking into the 1920s terraced house in Hither Green
The coroner’s ruling that retired RAC manager Mr Osborn-Brooks acted in self-defence is a victory for common sense that will have reassured homeowners. Yet, as the Mail highlighted yesterday, it can’t feel like that to Mr Osborn-Brooks.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder, while Vincent’s family and fellow members of the travelling community turned the road outside his house into a Princess Diana-like shrine to their lost ‘brother’.
Osborn-Brooks and his wife have had to leave their home and live in a secret location, with new identities away from friends because Vincent’s community has sworn to avenge his death.
The police take these threats so seriously he had to give evidence to the Coroner’s Court via videolink, his face obscured.
This is a story that hits at the hearts of all us who live in fear of the rising tide of violence in our streets.
Yes, the homeowner was cleared, having defended his frail wife and his home. But Mr Osborn-Brooks and his wife are serving a life sentence.
Dad would never have called that justice.
Jennifer Lopez is pictured attending a film set in Manhattan clutching a handbag in the shape of a $10,000 wad of notes
Multi-millionairess actress and singer Jennifer Lopez steps out in half a dress held together by safety pins, clutching a handbag in the shape of a $10,000 wad of notes.
Isn’t there a point when celebrity cash-flashing just becomes obscene?
While we await the arrival of Baby Sussex and are treated to the Cambridges releasing adorable pictures of daughter Charlotte’s fourth birthday, the Countess of Wessex has been in India quietly representing the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Trust, which funds premature baby units.
Sophie’s choice is to focus on vulnerable newborns in far-flung countries — poignantly so, as she lost one baby and then almost died giving birth to another.
No wonder the Queen adores her.Song to remember Dad
Forget Britain’s Got Talent’s sob stories, the real reality-TV heartbreaker is the BBC’s Our Dementia Choir, hosted by Line Of Duty’s Vicky McClure who lost her gran to Alzheimer’s.
They sang Stand By Me to celebrate the wedding of chorister, Daniel Bradbury, who has early onset dementia at just 32.
A dad of twins, he’s unlikely to remember them growing up. But they’ll always have the memory of their father singing in a performance that reduced everyone to tears.