Text exchanges between father and son accused of murder read to court

Winsford Road in Bury St Edmunds where Neil Charles was fatally wounded

David and Edward King deny murdering Neil Charles (insert) as the trial continues. - Credit: Archant/Supplied

A Suffolk father and son accused of the “vigilante” killing of a thief exchanged violent text messages before the alleged attack including one saying “scum must die”, a court has heard.

Two years before 47-year-old Neil Charles was fatally stabbed, four wheels had been stolen from a BMW at the family home of David King and his son Edward in Bury St Edmunds and in the days that followed Edward King allegedly sent a message to his father saying: “I’m going to stab them”, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

In another exchange with his father about what they would like to do thieves Edward King allegedly said he would “rather just punch in their heads and slit their throats“.

In a further exchange 55-year-old, David King allegedly told his 19-year-old son to: “fire a warning shot in the air first and if they come at you, shoot them” to which Edward replied he would aim at the knees.

In other references to thieves David King allegedly said: “I want to kill them. I worry about them coming back” and “scum needs to die.”

He also referred to “torturing them” while his son said: “I would kill one to start with.”

Prosecution counsel Christopher Paxton QC has claimed that the messages show David and Edward King’s attitude to the likes of Mr Charles, who was a thief and a burglar.

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“What these defendants are expressing is the very thing they did to Mr Charles, when he went out to steal in the early hours of 20th June 2021,” said Mr Paxton.

The defendants, both of Radnor Close, Bury St Edmunds, have denied murdering Mr Charles and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

It has been alleged that they hunted down Mr Charles and stabbed him after he tried the door handles of cars parked outside their home.

Mr Paxton has claimed they delivered their "own form of justice" on Mr Charles in the early hours of Sunday, June 20 last year around 70 metres from their family home.

He described what they did as an act of "vigilante violence”.

Mr Charles suffered a 12cm single stab wound to the chest in Winsford Road, and died from his injuries two days later.

Mr Paxton told the jury that Mr Charles had a "long career" as a thief and burglar and  was out that night “looking for opportunities to steal.” 

“The prosecution accept he was out that night stealing or looking to steal. But we have the police force to be called out and a criminal justice system to process those who are accused of a crime,” he said.

Mr Paxton said that during the course of the trial, jurors would hear there was "a darker side" to the father and son relationship. 

He said the pair had an "obsession" and "fascination" with weapons and following the death of Mr Charles, numerous items were discovered at the King family home. 

These included knives, knuckledusters, machetes, and shotguns - of which David King had licences for as a registered firearms holder. 

The trial continues.