/Police issue fresh appeal over death of man at Kent castle

Police issue fresh appeal over death of man at Kent castle

Police have issued a fresh appeal for witnesses after a “dreadful incident” in which a man died in the grounds of a Kent castle.

Charlie Hilder, 66, from Essex, died at Lullingstone castle on Thursday afternoon, after emergency services were called to the scene.

Officers said it had been reported that Hilder may have been involved in an altercation with two teenagers near a lake before his death, citing reports of rocks being thrown

The death is being treated as unexplained and a postmortem examination is expected to take place on Monday.

Det Ch Insp Gavin Moss, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said: “We continue to appeal for information from anybody who witnessed the incident or saw two young people in the vicinity of the lake between 12pm and 7pm. One of them may have been carrying a fishing rod.” 

He added: “There were lots of people in the area including cyclists, joggers, dog walkers, anglers and golfers. Some will have taken photographs or videos that may assist us with our inquiries and we are particularly keen to speak to anybody who was near the gatehouse on the estate or in a car park next to the lake.” 

Charlie Hilder.

Charlie Hilder. Photograph: Family handout/PA

Police also want to speak to the owner of a drone they believe may have been flying in the area at the time of the incident. 

Local fishermen have expressed shock and sadness at Hilder’s death. In a tribute, the Kingfisher Angling and Preservation Society said: “The society has been shocked and greatly saddened to hear of the death of Mr Charles Hilder. At this stage we would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Charlie’s family and friends.”

On its website, the society warns members about poaching in the area. It has been reported that Hilder spent Thursday morning helping to stock the five-hectare (14-acre) lake with rainbow trout.

The incident followed what locals described as a spate of antisocial behaviour in the picturesque village around the 15th-century castle.

The Conservative local MP, Laura Trott, said the police had confirmed there would be an immediate increased presence. “My thoughts go out to the victim’s family and loved ones at this difficult and sad time,” she wrote.

Eynsford parish council said in a statement that it was “fully aware of the dreadful incident” and other “ongoing local policing issues”.

It added: “All councillors live in Eynsford so are as affected by events as all our residents, and have the same desire for answers and appropriate action.”

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