Two men have been found guilty of murder and a man and a woman have been found guilty of manslaughter.
Courtney Valentine-Brown, who lived in Southend, was found with a stab wound to his leg at an address on Roots Hall Drive, shortly before midnight on Thursday February 21.
Despite the efforts of police officers and paramedics, who spent more than an hour battling to save his life, Courtney sadly died.
The incident happened just days after his 36th birthday.
Today at Basildon Crown Court, a jury found Ian Slater, 50 of Wayletts, Leigh-on-sea and Alex Stephens, 36, of Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff guilty of murder. Kelly King, 31, of Roots Hall Drive, Southend and Stuart Pearson, 44, of Satanita Road, Westcliff were found guilty of manslaughter.
During the trial, the court heard how a dispute over a debt led ISlater, acting on behalf of King, to recruit Stephens and Pearson to confront Mr Valentine-Brown and evict him from King’s flat, where he had been staying.
The group travelled to Roots Hall Drive, both Stephens and Slater armed with weapons. Once inside the flat, Stephens stabbed Courtney in the thigh, severing a major artery.
The post-mortem examination report stated that the wound was believed to have been caused by a blade at least 17cm long and two-and-a-half centimetres wide.
The victim suffered massive blood loss and died from the injury.
Senior Investigating Officer,
Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten said: “This was a tragic and ruthless murder where a much-loved man lost his life.
“Slater, King, Stephens and Pearson acted together to confront Courtney. Slater and Stephens armed themselves – a clear indication of their intent to cause harm.
“Despite being the aggressor, Stephens stated that he was acting in self-defence, which the jury rejected.
“Their callous and cowardly actions have left another family devastated as a result of knife crime.
“Courtney’s family have demonstrated the utmost dignity throughout the investigation and trial but it is clear that Courtney’s death has affected them deeply.
“I hope this outcome helps them to come to terms with this awful crime and move forward as best they can.”
All four defendants were remanded in custody and will return to Basildon Crown Court tomorrowm Wednesday January 29n for sentence.
In a released statement, Mr Valentine-Brown’s grandfather, Mr V C Brown said on behalf of the family: “Throughout the trial we were told that the defendants were just going to talk to Courtney, but they decided to take weapons with them on that night and, to that end, Courtney was murdered – never to get married, never to have children, and never to fulfil his dreams.
Even with this verdict we know it will not bring Courtney back, but he will forever be in our hearts, never to be forgotten.
Now we are asking the Government to find answers. Don’t be the #TooLateGovernment where you only turn up after the event. Help the police to police. How can law and order be expected, if we do not have the personnel on the streets.
In the event of a fire, an alarm sounds, in the event of a flood, we get a warning. However, with this knife crime epidemic, we have grieving mothers, fathers and families sounding the alarm – we are saying ‘enough is enough’, something has to be done.
So we would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the government to help find the solution to this problem, so that no other family needs to go through this heart-breaking process.