THE uncle of Henry Vincent, the career criminal fatally stabbed in a botched burglary last year, has been spared jail despite fleecing elderly homeowners out of thousands.
A judge told rogue trader David Vincent Snr, who has numerous previous convictions for fraud, he had decided to ‘call his bluff’ to see if he could stick to his promise to put his criminal past behind him.
Kent Police Henry Vincent’s uncle David Vincent Senior, 50, has been spared jail
Kent Police Henry Vincent was a career criminal and was killed during a botched robbery in Hither Green
The 51-year-old, who admitted two offences of fraud relating to bogus building work at two properties in Plumstead and Eltham in south east London, was handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.
Maidstone Crown Court in Kent heard today that both his victims were vulnerable by their age and living circumstances.
One, who had lived in his home since 1938, handed over £23,000 for work costing approximately £1,000, while the other, an 88-year-old woman, was repeatedly pressured into paying more than the £700 she actually paid him for roof works worth nothing.
He must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and be subject to a six-month tagged curfew between 7pm and 7am.
He is the uncle of Henry Vincent, who died after a botched robbery in South East London’s Hither Green earlier this year.
Henry Vincent, 37, was stabbed to death by Richard Osborn-Brooks, 78, who woke to find two men in his home.
Osborn-Brooks was arrested on suspicion of murder but later told by police he would face no further action.
FLEECED OUT OF THOUSANDS
Vincent Snr, now said to be earning ‘meagre wages’ as an electrician’s mate, has been given just six months to pay compensation totalling almost £23,000.
When Judge David Griffith-Jones QC was asked to give him more time to pay, he replied that Vincent could sell any assets he had to raise the money.
In explaining his decision to take what he called an ‘exceptional course’, the judge said he had taken into account the crimes were committed around the same time as those he was jailed for last year, and that since his release from that sentence in October he had not reoffended.
He told Vincent, who had brought two packed bags to court in preparation for being jailed and has a total of eight previous convictions for 17 offences, it would ‘be wrong to ignore’ that previous sentence and the fact he was now on licence.
Were it not for those ‘complicated’ circumstances, the judge said he would have jailed Vincent for up to 42 months.
The judge said: “You have pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud, rogue trader offences. Your victims were fleeced and both were elderly and lived alone. It is clear these two offences bear your particular signature.
“You maintained you had seen some sort of problem with their property which you offered to fix, resorting to a calculated form of subterfuge to support your assertions that work was required. What you purported to carry out was of little or no value.”
In explaining his reason for sparing him prison, Judge Griffith-Jones continued: “In my judgment it would be wrong to ignore that previous sentence and the fact you have now been released on licence.
“In the circumstances I am going to take what might be thought to be an exceptional course by allowing you to maintain your liberty.
“In taking this course, I do so after giving you credit for your guilty pleas. A prison sentence is plainly demanded but in the circumstances I am going to call your bluff and give you another chance by suspending the operation of that sentence.
I am going to call your bluff and give you another chance by suspending the operation of that sentenceJudge Griffith-Jones
“I have taken an exceptional course which I hope you recognise. I said I’m calling your bluff and I am keeping you to your word that you do indeed intend to put your past behind you.
“You well understand you will find yourself back behind bars if you fail to comply.”
Vincent has a string of convictions for similar scams, including one committed with his deceased nephew Henry in which pensioners were swindled out of almost £450,000, and the latest comes less than a year after he was jailed for 21 months alongside his 26-year-old son, also called David.
On that occasion, they appeared in court just three weeks after 37-year-old Henry had died during the break-in.
The suspected crook fled the scene but collapsed in the street and later died from the stab wound to his upper body at hospital.
Vincent’s latest offences of fraud by false representation, committed between October and December 2017, involved deliberate targeting of both victims, telling them their roofs were leaking and needed urgent repairs.
His ‘calculated subterfuge’ also included pouring water in various parts of the properties, and even suggesting one home was infested with rats and he had been bitten during an inspection.
Vincent, who lives with his second wife, their children and his ageing father in Wagtail Way, Orpington, Kent, was also on bail at the time of one of the offences.
He was previously jailed for six years in 2003 after he and six other members of the Vincent clan, including his deceased nephew, duped OAPs out of almost £450,000.
He also has a conviction for burglary in 2008, and then in April last year he was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court for a fraud in which he, his son and another man ripped off a homeowner to the tune of £6,000 by using a similar ruse that his roof was rotting and infested with rodents, bird nests and maggots.STRING OF CONVICTIONS
Their deceit was discovered when the concerned resident contacted his insurance company and police were alerted.
There were no infestations and a genuine builder who later inspected the ‘work’ carried out concluded it was ‘valueless, non-urgent and bodged’.
David Vincent Snr was jailed for 21 months for that offence of fraud, while his son and their accomplice were each jailed for 18 months.
An inquest opening at Southwark Coroner’s Court in April last year heard that father-of-four Henry Vincent, from Lime Road in Swanley, Kent, was jobless and single when he and an accomplice broke into Mr and Mrs Osborn-Brooks’ home at about 12.30am.
The former RAC man allegedly stabbed Henry Vincent during a struggle at the 1920s terraced property.
Despite being released without charge, Mr Osborn-Brooks and his wife have not returned to their property since that night.
Vincent’s death sparked huge public debate of the rights of homeowners to defend themselves and their properties.
However, no mention of Vincent Snr’s relationship with him was made at today’s sentencing hearing or even last year’s, other than a brief reference to a ‘bereavement’.
Prosecutor Don Ramble told the court Vincent was arrested and interviewed about the two fraud offences while in prison.
He had told his the first victim he would ‘sort out’ what were non-existent leaks and then purported to fix the roof over a number of days.
Mr Ramble saidL “An expert who looked at the work carried out said the value was nil, save for, some replacement fascias with a value of about £1,000.
“But he also indicated these didn’t need replacing. The ruse given was that they were rotten.”
The second victim was tricked into handing over just £700 after Vincent poured water over her outer wall.
But the court heard the work he then carried out amounted to removing grass from guttering.
Vincent then repeatedly ‘haggled’ with her over paying out more for extra roof repairs which he claimed were urgently needed.
The prosecutor added: “She described how she didn’t really believe him, and told him she didn’t have the money.
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“He kept on but wisely she refused. He said he would leave the work until after Christmas but she didn’t see him again.”
Philip Rowley, defending Vincent, said he had tried to ‘move forward’ since his release, having realised he was ‘too old’ to continue with a criminal way of life.
Rowley said: “He wants to lead a productive life and has found work through another family member. These matters from late 2017 have now come back to bite him.”
Richard Osborn-Brooks was quizzed by police after the burglar invaded his Hither Green home