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Neil Charles murder trial: Knife in court as lawyers test accused David King's account

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Lawyers in a murder case today took a knife into court to put a defendant's account to the test.

In the dock at Ipswich Crown Court are David King, 55, and his 19-year-old son, Edward.

The pair stand accused of fatally stabbing 47-year-old Neil Charles last June, after he was spotted attempting to break into a car parked on their driveway.

Neil Charles (right) can be heard crying out in audio played in court.
Neil Charles (right) can be heard crying out in audio played in court.

The incident occurred in Winsford Road, Bury St Edmunds, close to the King family home.

It took place early on the morning of June 20, and no witnesses to the stabbing itself have appeared in court - but an audio recording was picked up from a nearby home.

David King claims he was alone when he encountered Mr Charles, and only produced a knife after the victim assaulted him with a bicycle.

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture by Mark Westley
Ipswich Crown Court. Picture by Mark Westley

He told the court that Mr Charles accidentally ran into the knife while lashing out, and that Edward showed up after the injured man fled the scene.

Mr Charles was subsequently picked up by emergency workers, and he died two days later at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

Today, the Fairbairn-Sykes knife which fatally injured Mr Charles was used in a demonstration before the jury, as prosecutor Chris Paxton QC set out to disprove David King's account.

Lawyers on both sides have acknowledged that the audio recording of the incident is of poor quality, with experts unable to determine how many voices can be heard at any given time.

But Mr Paxton insists that it provides a vital chronology of events.

After a brief period of shouting - some of it inaudible - a man is heard crying out in distress.

Using the recording as a guide, the prosecution claims that David King would only have had a three-second window to pull out the blade on Mr Charles.

Wielding the knife, Mr Paxton sought to show the court that this was impossible.

After pulling the weapon from his pocket and unsheathing it, he told jurors: "Even a trained soldier might struggle with three seconds."

Mr Paxton argues that Edward King must have been present at the time Mr Charles sustained the injury, and that he and David both took part in the attack.

The prosecution alleges that father and son shared a 'fascination' with thieves, weaponry and vigilantism, and that they acted together to deceive the police and cover up their guilt.

David King has acknowledged that he did not initially disclose Edward's role in the events to police.

However, he insists his son was not present when Mr Charles was injured.

The defendant told the jury: "I wanted to keep my son out of it."

After Mr Paxton's demonstration with the blade, defence barrister Jason Bartfeld QC came forward to challenge the prosecution's case.

Taking up the knife himself, he was able to produce it within three seconds - in line with David King's account.

Both defendants deny charges of murder and manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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