Tragic Canterbury father Jack Hilding had been facing assault sentence, court told
by Paul Hooper
A man found dead near an electricity substation in January
had been facing sentence for assault, it has been revealed.
Father-of-one Jack Hilding (pictured right) vanished last
year shortly after been told his case for assault by beating and
being drunk and disorderly had been sent to the crown court.
The 23-year-old scrap metal collector, of Reed Avenue,
Canterbury, failed to appear at his court hearing in October –
sparking a countywide hunt.
Police used a helicopter and tracker dogs in the search as his
family feared for his well-being following a break-up from his
partner, Jemma Burton, from Canterbury, and mother of his
His body was later discovered near the substation, near Woolpack
Corner, close to the village of Frittenden.
Police believe Mr Hilding had been electrocuted. His
body was obscured from view by metal boxes and cages, which might
explain why no sightings were reported in the four months he had
Jack Hilding and Jemma
Burton with little Jack
On August 10 last year, he had appeared before Canterbury
magistrates and pleaded guilty to assaulting Gonjalo Garcia three
weeks earlier in St Peter's Street.
The court heard he had verbally abused his victim before
slapping him across the face. Police officers were called and he
ran off shouting and screaming.
Magistrates granted him bail to appear for sentence at
Canterbury Crown Court – but when he failed to show an arrest
warrant was issued.
Now a judge has been given an interim death certificate – and
has today halted the legal proceedings.
Judge Simon James (pictured right) said: "I have now received an
interim certificate of death, dated January 31, and being satisfied
that it names the individual involved in which these proceedings
relate, the case should be endorsed that the defendant is now
deceased and the proceedings declared of no legal effect and the
file now closed."
After Mr Hilding's death, Jemma posted a message on
Facebook: "Thanks for all your messages. Nothing can describe how I
feel right now, completely numb. Jack will always be loved, always
in my heart, rip Jack, my 1st love."
It adds: "Hope ur in a happy place, see u in the next life, love
An entry from his stepmum Lucy said: "I just want to take the
time to thank you for your help in trying to find Jack, and the
police and fire and rescue service for all their efforts and hard
"All I want to say at this stage is we all wanted a happy ending
to all this but was not to be. Instead all we're left with is
"God bless you all, regards Jack Lucy and family."
Mr Hilding was part of a traveller family and his father, also
called Jack, lives in Staplehurst. He was reported missing on
October 1 from the Biddenden area.
Mr Hilding senior also produced posters featuring images of his
son, which were distributed across Kent by the family.
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