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Defence lawyers pick apart case against Bury St Edmunds 'vigilante' murder accused

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Barristers representing a father and son accused of killing a man in a 'vigilante' attack have been making their closing remarks today, picking apart the case against their clients.

In the dock at Ipswich Crown Court are David and Edward King, charged with murder and manslaughter over the death of 47-year-old Neil Charles.

Mr Charles died at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, on June 22 last year, two days after being stabbed in Winsford Road, Bury St Edmunds.

Neil Charles, 47, died last year after sustaining a stab wound to the chest.
Neil Charles, 47, died last year after sustaining a stab wound to the chest.

In the early hours of June 20, Mr Charles - who had over 90 criminal convictions - had been sighted attempting to break into cars parked in the Moreton Hall estate.

One of the vehicles he targeted belonged to David King, a 55-year-old project manager and former lecturer at West Suffolk College.

David and his 19-year-old son, Edward, stand accused of staging a 'vigilante' attack on Mr Charles, assailing him with a knife and a ninja sword.

The prosecution argues that the pair had long fantasised about killing criminals, and that they had a 'fascination' with weapons, keeping numerous knives and swords at the family home.

Jason Bartfeld QC, acting in defence of David King, today told the court that his client had no murderous intentions, and that Mr Charles' death was, in fact, the result of a series of tragic mistakes.

CCTV footage from June 20 showed David and Edward King leaving their home in Radnor Close shortly after Mr Charles' appearance on their drive.

Both were armed, and the prosecution contends that they were seeking a confrontation with the intruder.

However, Mr Bartfeld put it to jurors that the Kings were acting out of concern, and were only looking to ensure their own property, and that of their neighbours, was safe.

After leaving the house, David King claims he and Edward became separated.

He said he was searching for his son when he encountered Mr Charles, and only produced his knife when the victim attacked him.

At this point, he alleges Mr Charles impaled himself on the blade, accidentally running into it as he lashed out against him.

While the prosecution has dismissed the defendant's account as a 'lie', Mr Bartfeld today argued that it is not only plausible, but consistent with the forensic evidence presented in the case.

Mr Bartfeld said: "We know that the knife did not go in to its full depth. How on earth can that possibly be consistent with a deliberate, full-force stab?

"No-one is suggesting to you that Neil Charles deliberately impaled himself upon this knife. No-one is suggesting that Neil Charles stood there, facing David King, and unequivocally decided to commit suicide.

"What was he doing? I don't know, but we have to use our common sense. Either he thought that he could overpower David King, or, more likely, he simply didn't see the knife."

Mr Bartfeld rounded off his speech by suggesting the Kings had legitimate reasons for going outside with weapons.

He said: "David King has to prove nothing. But, when looking at the evidence properly, various things are clear.

"David King did not go out intending, or planning, to attack Neil Charles at all. He went out to ensure that Ed did not get hurt.

"He went out to protect his property, and that of his neighbours. He went out to try and apprehend Neil Charles or his accomplices if he could.

"Looked at properly, those actions, individually and collectively, were entirely lawful. Looked at properly, the injury to Neil Charles was not intentional - it was not deliberate.

"David King tells you that, the pathology tells you that, consistency tells you that, the timing of his account tells you that."

Speaking in defence of Edward King, Richard Christie QC echoed Mr Bartfeld's sentiments.

Referring to Mr Charles' criminal activities, Mr Christie said: "The Crown criticises the Kings for being 72 metres from their home. There was, in fact, only one person who had no right being on the streets that night.

"They complain of them [the Kings] going out with a dagger and a sword, as if no lawful detention could be possible with these weapons."

David and Edward King deny charges of murder and manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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