Donald MacLeod: We must stop sitting on the fence on crime and come down hard on criminals

Flowers have been placed opposite the Brooks’ home (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

NOTHING has angered me more this week than the ugly scenes in a leafy London suburb.

What is happening in Hither Green leaves me red with rage and wondering if our justice system has gone completely bonkers.

I’m sure you know the story about the accidental stabbing – in self-defence – of a violent burglar by 78-year OAP Richard Osborn-Brooks.

Mr Brooks, looking after his wife who suffers from dementia, disturbed Henry Vincent, armed with a screwdriver and with an accomplice, trying to burgle his property.

A violent struggle ensued which resulted in the injuries to Vincent who, as his cowardly partner ran off, collapsed in the street and later died in hospital.

Vincent had specialised in preying upon the old, sick and vulnerable members of the community for almost 20 years.

But what comes next, you really couldn’t make up.

Poor Mr Brooks and his wife were forced to move out of their home after receiving sinister threats.

Then, floral “tributes” to Vincent were insensitively hung from a neighbour’s fence, without their permission, directly opposite the Brooks’ home.

Soon, the flowers were torn down by locals, angered at this ridiculous display for a known criminal.

More went up, and with the media now watching, torn down again and so on.

Threats of violence broke out between the residents and those putting up the flowers.

The police, incredibly, sided with those putting up the flowers.

Something is clearly not right when people are being allowed to intimidate anyone who goes near their ridiculous memorial.

Vincent was a career criminal who didn’t give a damn about his victims.

Yes, it’s sad that he was accidently killed.

But outside his immediate family, I doubt anyone will mourn his passing.

The graveyard is the rightful place for those awful pop-up shrines, not directly across the road from his victims.

The law-abiding Mr and Mrs Brooks should be afforded natural justice, they should feel protected and allowed to live in peace and without fear.

And that should go for all decent people

As it was, there were nearly 60,000 attempted burglary and break-ins across the UK last year, with many of them involving violence and the use of weapons.

Is it too much to ask that when you have been violated in such a terrifying manner that it’s the criminals and those who support them that feel the full force of the law, not the victims?

No, it is not, and that the use of force, excessive or otherwise while defending your family, possessions or property, should never be treated as a crime.

That should a basic right.