A father and son from Bury St Edmunds have been given life sentences for the murder of a man in the town almost two years ago.
David King aged 56-years-old, and Edward King aged 20, both of Radnor Close, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court today, Monday 24 April, where they were sentenced to life imprisonment, with minimum terms of 21 years and 19 years respectively.
The pair had been found guilty of murder by a unanimous verdict in May last year, following a 10-week trial.
At around 3.55am on Sunday 20 June 2021 police received a call via 999 from David King, who stated a man had been trying to steal from his car on the Moreton Hall estate.
He told the call taker that he had tried to apprehend the male 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.
Upon arrival, officers located David King in Winsford Road, away from his address, and where the stabbing took place. Other officers located the victim further into Winsford Road where he was found to have sustained a serious stab wound to the chest and was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
David King was first arrested at the scene on the morning in question, with the arrest of Edward King following later in the day. They were both released on bail on 21 June.
The victim was later identified as Neil Charles, aged 47, of Bury St Edmunds. He tragically died in hospital on Tuesday 22 June. A Home Office post-mortem examination concluded that Mr Charles died as a result of a single 12cm stab wound to the chest.
The police investigation found that on the night of the incident Mr Charles – who had a number of previous convictions for theft and burglary – had been trying car door and house handles on the Moreton Hall estate.
David and Edward King – alerted by their own CCTV that a thief appeared to be active in the area – armed themselves with weapons and went out to take the law into their own hands. No attempt was made by either party to contact the police to come and investigate.
David King had a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife – a double edged knife resembling a dagger – whilst Edward had with him a 27-inch Ninja Sword. The fighting knife was used to inflict the fatal wound and the Ninja Sword caused a horizontal wound above the left knee of Mr Charles. This weapon was also used to stab the tyre of Mr Charles’ pushbike, which he left at the scene.
Mr Charles was some distance from the Kings’ property and was heading away from it when they caught up with him and the fatal blow was delivered.
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.
When their home was searched following their arrests, officers found numerous weapons including lock knives, knuckle dusters and a samurai sword.
In 2019, a car belonging to the King family had its wheels stolen and following this, David and Edward exchanged text messages where they mentioned, among a number of violent intentions, to ‘beat’ or ‘stab’ the offenders if they found them.
During the trial both parties 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 he had run onto his knife.
However, the prosecution presented the evidence of the police investigation to demonstrate that the two men had actively gone out together to hunt down and attack Mr Charles in what can only be described as an act of vigilantism.
Detective Chief Inspector Karl Nightingale, the Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Neil Charles had a family who loved him, including parents and siblings, and was due to be married in August 2021. At just 47-years-old, Neil’s life was taken by David and Edward King who needlessly pursued and murdered him in the early hours of Sunday 20 June 2021.
“The prosecution was clear from the outset that Neil was actively committing crime on the night he was killed, trying door handles of cars and addresses. Neil did exactly that at the property of the King family.
“However, the trial proved that the actions of the Kings were not spontaneous. Their obsession with weapons, pride over their possessions and threats to harm people who offended them dated, back years prior to the killing of Mr Charles.
“Taking weapons out onto the streets to confront Mr Charles was never the right choice and a criminal offence in its own right. Their choice of weapons – a military dagger and a 27-inch Ninja sword – demonstrate their intentions once they found Mr Charles.
“David and Edward King have shown arrogance and contempt throughout. At no point have they shown any hint of genuine remorse or humility for their actions, convincing themselves they did nothing wrong at all. Their efforts to persuade a jury of that rightly failed. From the call to the police by David King through to the conclusion of this case they have both told lies to try and save themselves from the sentences they deserve as a result of their choices and actions.
“The vigilante conduct of David and Edward King has destroyed many lives, changed families and impacted their own community. From the outside the Kings appeared to have it all, but this case has revealed hidden dimensions to the contrary.”