Father and son found guilty of murdering thief in Bury St Edmunds 'vigilante' attack

300522 david and edward king
David and Edward King have been found guilty of murder Credit: Suffolk police

A father and son have been found guilty of murder after they took the law into their own hands, stabbing a suspected thief to death in a vigilante attack.

David King, 55, and his son Edward, 19, said they were alerted to an attempted break-in on the Moreton Hall estate on Bury St Edmunds when they spotted it on their own CCTV in the early hours of Sunday, 20 June 2021.

Ipswich Crown Court heard the pair armed themselves and went out to investigate without calling police.

The court heard David King had a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife - a double edged knife resembling a dagger - while Edward had with him a 27-inch ninja sword.

They used the weapons to attack Neil Charles, 47, from Bury St Edmunds, who Suffolk Police said had been trying car and house door handles on the estate. Mr Charles had a number of previous convictions for theft and burglary.

Neil Charles, 47, died of his injuries. Credit: Suffolk Police

The court heard David King used his fighting knife to inflict the fatal 12cm stab wound in Mr Charles's chest, while the ninja sword caused a wound above his left knee.

This weapon was also used to stab the tyre of Mr Charles’ bicycle, which he left at the scene.

Police said Mr Charles was some distance from the Kings' property and was heading away from it when the Kings caught up with him and the fatal blow was delivered.

A police car at the scene of the attack in Bury St Edmunds Credit: ITV Anglia

At around 3.55am on Sunday 20 June police received a 999 call from David King, who claimed a man had been trying to steal from his car.

He told the call taker that he had tried to stop the man, who had run off. He admitted he had had a knife in his hand and that the had man claimed he was injured by this before he ran away.

When police arrived, they found David King in Winsford Road, where the stabbing took place.

Other officers discovered the victim not far away. He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital but died of his wounds.

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.

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. 

Police tape at the scene of the crime in Bury St Edmunds Credit: ITV Anglia

They were both rearrested on 11 October and were subsequently charged with murder, making their first court appearance on 13 October.

During the 10-week trial both men denied intentionally killing Mr Charles, with David King maintaining 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, said police.

The court found both men guilty by unanimous verdict.

They have been remanded in custody for a sentencing hearing to be held at Ipswich Crown Court on a date yet to be fixed.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.