Knife found at home of father and son accused of 'vigilante' killing, court told

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

Neil Charles (inset) died after suffering a knife wound in Winsford Road, Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant/Supplied

A military-style knife which was allegedly used by a Bury St Edmunds father and son in the “vigilante “ killing of a thief was found on a kitchen worktop at their home, a court has heard.

The blood of 47-year-old Neil Charles, who suffered a 12cm deep fatal stab wound to the chest and died two days later was found on the World War Two knife by a forensic scientist, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Following the alleged attack police also found a Ninja-style sword in the airing cupboard at the home of 55-year-old David King and his 19-year-old son Edward in Radnor Close, Bury St Edmunds, said Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting.

He claimed the sword was used to cause a 4cm cut to Mr Charles’ knee to stop him running away and was also used to slash a tyre on his bike to stop him leaving the area.

“We say the military style knife and the sword were used by these defendants in this deadly attack.

“Both weapons were taken out of their house on to the street and then returned to their home,” said Mr Paxton.

A forensics officer takes photographs of a bike that the police had covered up at the the scene of a

A forensics officer takes photographs of a bike that the police had covered up in Winsford Road in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

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

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

Mr Paxton 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 meted out by this father and son team". 

Mr Paxton said David King told a 999 operator Neil Charles had run into his knife and failed to mention to police that a sword had also been used in the attack and also hadn’t mentioned his son Edward had been present during the incident.

He told the jury: “Of course it is a matter for you, but it sounds like David and Edward King hadn’t just readied and prepared themselves for the confrontation with a thief or burglar but David King had prepared himself for what he was to say.

“You see in that 999 call David King is already spinning his lies not just about the running into the knife but making no mention of the sword, the attack on Mr Charles and his bike with that sword and he is cutting out completely Edward’s presence in the confrontation with Mr  Charles.

“We say he lied because he knew that together they had unlawfully attacked  Mr Charles with weapons and they had killed him."

He said Edward King had also lied to police by claiming he’d been at home all night and that he knew no more about the incident than what the police had told him.

"They were determined to settle matters in their own violent way," said Mr Paxton.

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. 

Two years before the alleged murder, in June 2019, David King's wife had four wheels stolen from her BMW M3, the court heard. 

Mr Paxton read a message that David King had sent to his wife following the incident, referring to those responsible, saying: "Scum needs to die." 

Further messages were read to the court between the father and son discussing recent thefts around the Moreton Hall estate. 

In several messages, Edward King told his dad what he would do to any thieves if he caught them. 

On May 16, 2021, David King put a Whatsapp message into a community group alerting people that someone had tried the handle of his other son's car, the court heard. 

Two days after that incident, Edward King ordered a sword from the internet, Mr Paxton said. 

The trial continues on Monday.