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Judge instructs jury as Bury St Edmunds 'vigilante' murder trial closes

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The judge in a murder case against a father and son has been instructing the jury on how they should reach a verdict.

The trial of David and Edward King - residents of Radnor Close, Bury St Edmunds - opened in March at Ipswich Crown Court.

The pair stand accused of killing 47-year-old Neil Charles, who died on June 22 last year, two days after being stabbed in Winsford Road.

Neil Charles, 47, was stabbed in Winsford Road, Bury St Edmunds, last year.
Neil Charles, 47, was stabbed in Winsford Road, Bury St Edmunds, last year.

Mr Charles, a convicted thief and burglar, had been sighted in the early hours of June 20 attempting to break into various vehicles parked on the Moreton Hall estate.

One of the cars he targeted belonged to the King family.

David King, 55, has been charged with murder and manslaughter over Mr Charles' death.

He is standing trial alongside his son, Edward, with the prosecution alleging that the pair launched a 'vigilante' attack on Mr Charles, intending to 'punish' him for his criminality.

Directing jurors in the case today, Judge Martyn Levett said there was 'no dispute' over the cause of the victim's death.

David King has acknowledged he was holding the Fairbairn-Sykes knife which inflicted the fatal chest wound - but he claims the injury was accidental.

The defendant said he went out on the morning of June 20 out of concern for himself and his neighbours, after Mr Charles was captured on CCTV.

Ipswich Crown Court has heard he encountered Mr Charles in Winsford Road, and, by his own account, only produced the knife he had taken with him after the victim lashed out.

David King claims that Mr Charles then accidentally ran into the knife.

The defendant told the court that, although Edward went out with him on the morning of the incident, they got split up.

He states the 19-year-old was not present when Mr Charles was stabbed.

During the trial, the prosecution disputed this account, arguing that both father and son attacked Mr Charles - although it cannot be established who caused the fatal stab wound.

Moreover, they claim the assault was premeditated, with the Kings expressing violent fantasies about killing burglars in the years leading up to the incident.

Summing up the case, Judge Levett told jurors that they may wish to consider the credibility of David King's testimony.

The judge described the father-of-two as a 'person of good character', with no previous convictions.

During the investigation into Mr Charles' death, David King initially omitted any mention whatsoever of Edward's role in the events to police.

At first, both he and his son gave no-comment interviews to inspectors - and Edward has not spoken in his defence at trial.

While Judge Levett acknowledged that a defendant's silence in such circumstances can be factored into a jury's verdict, he reminded the court that it does not automatically imply guilt, and must be balanced against other evidence.

Further directions will be provided to the jury tomorrow.

David and Edward King deny all charges against them.

The trial continues.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here