Father and son found guilty of murdering thief in vigilante killing

David King and his son Edward were convicted of killing Neil Charles in Bury St Edmunds in June 2021.

Police had received a 999 call from 55-year-old David King at around 3.55am on June 20 last year (Peter Byrne/PA)
Police had received a 999 call from 55-year-old David King at around 3.55am on June 20 last year (Peter Byrne/PA)

A father and son have been found guilty of the murder of a thief in a vigilante killing.

Neil Charles, who had a number of previous convictions for theft and burglary, had been trying car door and house handles in Bury St Edmunds on the night he was fatally stabbed, Suffolk Police said.

The 47-year-old was found wounded on June 20 last year and died in hospital on June 22.

David King and his 19-year-old son Edward King, both of Radnor Close in Bury St Edmunds, have been found guilty of Mr Charles’s murder following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court, Suffolk Police said.

Police had received a 999 call from 55-year-old David King at around 3.55am on June 20 last year stating a man had been trying to steal from his car on the Moreton Hall estate.

King told the call taker that he had tried to apprehend the man who had run off, admitting he had a knife in his hand and the man claimed he was injured by this before he ran away.

David King has been found guilty for his part in the murder of Neil Charles (Suffolk Police/PA)

Police found King in Winsford Road, away from his address and where the stabbing took place.

Other officers found the victim further into Winsford Road, where he was found to have sustained a serious stab wound to the chest.

David King was first arrested at the scene on the morning in question, with the arrest of his son Edward following later in the day.

A post-mortem examination recorded that Mr Charles died of a single 12cm stab wound to the chest.

Police said that on the night in question, David and Edward King had been alerted by their own CCTV that a thief appeared to be active in the area.

They armed themselves with weapons and went out to take the law into their own hands, the force said, adding no attempt was made by either of them to contact the police to come and investigate.

David King had a double-edged knife resembling a dagger while his son Edward had with him a 27-inch ninja sword.

Edward King was armed with a 27-inch sword (Suffolk Police/PA)

The knife was used to inflict the fatal wound and the sword caused a horizontal wound above the left knee of Mr Charles, police said.

The sword was also used to stab the tyre of Mr Charles’s pushbike, which he left at the scene.

Mr Charles was some distance from the King’s property and was heading away from it when they caught up with him and the fatal blow was delivered, Suffolk Police said.

The force said that analysis of both men’s text message history revealed they had a fascination with weapons and, following previous thefts in the area, a clear intent and desire to deal with any perceived criminals themselves.

During the trial both men denied intentionally killing Mr Charles, with David King maintaining his version of events that he had disturbed Mr Charles in the act of trying to break into his car and that Mr Charles had run onto his knife.

However, the prosecution said the father and son had gone out together to hunt down and attack Mr Charles in an act of vigilantism.

David and Edward King were on Monday found guilty of murder by unanimous verdicts.

They have been remanded in custody to be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

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