Stone-throwing yobs wanted over death of angler may be as young as 11

Two boys as young as ELEVEN are being hunted by police after throwing stones at angler, 66, before he died of heart attack at 15th century castle

  • Charles Hilder, 66, was found collapsed in car park at Lullingstone Castle in Kent 
  • Police want to talk to two boys who were involved in the incident last Thurdsay
  • Pair are said to have thrown stones at father-of-five after he asked them to leave 
  • They were allegedly poaching fish at the private lake and had a verbal argument

Police are hunting for two poachers who may be as young as 11 after an angler was allegedly pelted with rocks on a country estate in Kent and died from a heart attack.

Charles Hilder, 66, was found collapsed in a car park at Lullingstone Castle near Eynsford last Thursday – and police now want to talk to two boys who were involved. 

The pair are said to have thrown stones at father-of-five Mr Hilder after he asked them to leave the private lake where they were believed to be poaching fish.

Father-of-five Charles Hilder, 66, was found collapsed in a car park at Lullingstone Castle near Eynsford last Thursday – and police now want to talk to two boys who were involved

Mr Hilder (right), who was named by fellow anglers, is understood to leave behind his wife Lynne and five grown-up daughters. He is pictured on his daughter Claire’s wedding day

On a return to his car, the two youths and the angler were involved in another verbal argument – and Mr Hilder, from Romford, Essex, then collapsed and later died.

Police said they are continuing to investigate the ‘wider circumstances’ of Mr Hilder’s death and renewed an appeal for the boys, aged from 11 to 18, to come forward.

Officers and paramedics were despatched to the 15th century estate – where King Henry VIII once hunted – last Thursday after receiving reports of a disturbance.

They tried to revive the angler with CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Detectives have been attempting to establish whether the victim – believed to have been fishing with his two brothers – was actually struck by one of the rocks. 

Lullingstone Castle near Eynsford in Kent is pictured last Friday as police probe the death

The father-of-five died in the grounds of Lullingstone Castle in Eynsford, pictured last Friday

Mr Hilder leaves behind wife Lynne, 62, and five daughters. Local residents said there had been a rise in anti-social behaviour in recent weeks by gangs of youths. 

Canisters containing nitrox oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, were found in a box close to the estate amid fears youngsters had been flouting lockdown rules.

Mr Hilder was a member of Kingfisher Angling & Preservation Society which had a permit to fish on the lake. Hours before his death, he was helping stock it with trout.

The society’s chairman Mick Lee said that the exact circumstances over his death are unclear, but members believe that he died ‘after a confrontation with poachers’. 

Located on the River Darent, Lullingstone has been the seat of the Hart Dyke family since 1361 and the historic manor house in the grounds dates back to 1497.

Police forensic officers in waterproof clothing gather evidence in the lake in Kent last Friday

Police forensic officers gather evidence near the boats by the lake on the grounds last Friday

Hidden within the grounds are a bathhouse and icehouse that Queen Anne used in the 18th century. The estate also has a vineyard, Tudor gatehouse and chapel.

Its heir is Tom Hart Dyke, 44, a horticulturist who was kidnapped by guerrilla fighters in Colombia while hunting for rare orchids in 2000 and held for nine months.

He is the cousin of British actress and comedian Miranda Hart, from Call the Midwife. The castle normally opens for three days per week during spring to autumn.

It is currently closed due to the pandemic, however anglers were allowed to return after Boris Johnson lifted restrictions on some sports. 

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