Pensioner quizzed on suspicion of murder over intruder stabbing death
A burglary suspect who died after a struggle with a pensioner had an accomplice who dragged him towards a van before leaving him for dead, according to an eyewitness.
A 78-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after fatally wounding the intruder during a suspected burglary at his home at around 12.45am on Wednesday.
Officers were called to reports of a burglary in progress after two men entered a house in South Park Crescent in Hither Green, south-east London, the Metropolitan Police said.
One suspect, armed with a screwdriver, forced the 78-year-old home-owner into his kitchen when he discovered them, while his accomplice went upstairs, the force said.
Detectives believe a struggle ensued between "one of the males and the home-owner" and the 38-year-old intruder was stabbed in the upper body but they refused to confirm whether the suspect had been stabbed with the screwdriver.
He was later found collapsed in nearby Further Green Road by paramedics from London Ambulance Service, who took him to a central London hospital where he died at 3.37am.
One eyewitness, who lives in the road, told the Press Association he saw an accomplice try to rescue the suspect before fleeing the scene.
He told the Press Association: "I went to bed at a quarter to 12, but before I got to sleep, my partner and I heard a man on the street moaning and groaning only metres away.
"At first I thought he was drunk, but when I looked out of the window, I saw a white Vauxhall Astra van pulled up beside him.
"A black man was saying to the guy on the ground 'come on, get in the van'. He was trying to drag him but it wasn't working.
"The black guy then looked up to my window and saw me looking out, so he ran back into the van and drove off north.
"My wife then heard the clang of metal on the ground and saw him throw something out of the van's window.
"I went downstairs straight away and was the first on the scene.
"The man on the ground was white and was bleeding heavily from his chest through his shirt."
The witness said believed the man's injury was a knife wound.
"People have been talking about a screwdriver but this wasn't a screwdriver wound, this was a knife. The wound was an inch long.
"I think that it was a knife and I think from what my partner said that the black guy pulled it out and threw it away.
"The man on the ground was wearing a blue t-shirt and it was pulled up. I think he was dead already. His pupils were completely dilated.
"There was another young man on the scene quickly and he phoned the police straight away.
"They came within minutes and so did the ambulance.
"The paramedics tried to resuscitate him for 20 minutes, but he was dead I'm sure."
The pensioner, who suffered bruising to his arms, was initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm but has been further arrested on suspicion of murder, the Met said.
He remains in custody at a south London police station.
At least five forensic officers entered the house on South Park Crescent just before 1pm.
A large purple forensic tent has been erected by the front door, and a wide cordon is being manned by around a dozen police officers.
One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the homeowner had been retired for many years.
"He's been retired for 26 years. I did some building work on his house a while ago, but I haven't seen him for about three weeks." said the neighbour.
Adam Lake, who lives near the scene, said he did not feel safe from crime.
He said: "He doesn't deserve to be punished for defending himself, and the neighbours that I've spoken to all agree that the priority needs to be to support him after everything that he's been through.
"He was just protecting himself after all."
The second suspect fled the scene and has yet to be found.
The dead suspect's next of kin have been informed and a formal identification is due to take place. A post-mortem examination will be carried out in due course.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting CAD214/4Apr. To remain anonymous they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.