Father-of-three’s killer jailed for minimum 27 years

The mother of Michael Ugwa has paid tribute to her “kind, compassionate, caring son” after the man who killed him was jailed for at least 27 years.

Twenty-four year-old Muhammad Khan, of no fixed address, was convicted in May of Michael’s murder.

He stabbed the 29 year-old from Rainham inside the food court of the Lakeside shopping centre in Thurrock at around 4.30pm on April 28 last year.

Khan, and his accomplice 21 year-old Brandon Lutchmunsing, confronted Michael, and the friends he was with, after he briefly spoke to Lutchmusing’s girlfriend, Shannon Weston.

ACCOMPLICE: Brandon Lutchmunsing

As the confrontation escalated Khan and Lutchmunsing effectively cornered Michael, before Khan lunged at him with a knife and stabbed him under his arm, through his ribs and puncturing his heart.

The attackers then ran off, meeting up with Weston who had already left the area, and made their way out of the centre through Primark.

Meanwhile, Michael made his way to the top of the escalators at the entrance to the food hall where he collapsed and died.

The entire incident was caught on several of Lakeside’s 362 CCTV cameras.

Khan was convicted of murder on May 22, while Lutchmunsing, of Grafton Road, Dagenham, was found guilty of manslaughter.

Weston, 21, of Paddocks Close, Canewdon, was convicted of assisting an offender at a separate hearing.

At Basildon Crown Court today (Thursday July 27), Khan was sentenced to life and told he must serve a minimum of 27 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Lutchmunsing was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Weston was given a two year suspended sentence.

Outside the court, Michael’s mum, Lauretta, said: “My family has been shattered by this senseless act of violence and we are still struggling to come to terms with the enormity of our loss even as we know that this is a void that will never be filled.

“The impact of Michael’s murder on our family has been immense. His children, who are now growing up without their father, have been deeply affected by this tragedy.”

Senior investigating officer temporary Detective Chief Inspector Julie Gowen said: “Today my thoughts are with Michael’s family.

“They have shown a huge amount of dignity thought the investigation and court proceedings and while no sentence will ever bring Michael back, I hope they believe they have justice for him.

“Michael died following a chance encounter which escalated due to the actions of Muhammad Khan and Brandon Lutchmunsing.

“The confrontation played out over the course of several minutes but the fatal attack was over in an instant.

“Michael’s death shows how quickly a situation can escalate when weapons are involved and that an attack does not need to be sustained or involve large weapons to be fatal.”

DCI Julie Gowan with Michael’s mother Lauretta and his family outside court after the sentencing
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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk