The family of a man who was stabbed to death outside his home has thanked dedicated Essex Police detectives for delivering justice as his teenage killer was sentenced to a minimum term of 13 years in detention.
James Gibbons, known as ‘Gibbo’, was stabbed four times outside his home in Iris Mews, in Laindon, on Sunday 2 May.
The teenager claimed he had brought a knife to the scene to protect himself against James after an earlier confrontation, but the prosecution discredited this defence and he was found guilty of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court after a five-week trial.
Today, 16-year-old Joshuah Sparks, of Armada Close, in Laindon, appeared at the same court and was sentenced to 13 years in custody.
He will be on licence for the remainder of his life.
Sparks can now be named after a restriction on naming him was lifted by The Honourable Judge Bourne, who cited the principle of open justice.
James’ partner Vicky Billingham said:
“Firstly we would like to thank Essex Police for their extremely quick and effective action on the night this happened. Without them we wouldn’t have the justice that has been served, and that we as a family needed. “Secondly, I would like to thank our prosecution team for everything they have done and how they supported us through this situation. “No amount of time that the defendant gets would seem enough for us, as we will be mourning James for the rest of our lives, my children in particular will now have to live a very different future then they deserve. “However, I am so thankful that the system worked for us, and we got justice for our beloved James. “For me personally, it means that I can tell my children that the person who hurt their daddy was locked up for a very long time, and that is what happens when you break the law.”
Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, led the case against Sparks.
She said: “Today, James’ family have seen justice served. The person responsible for the death of a much-loved dad, partner, son and brother is now going to serve an appropriate sentence. “He has never shown any remorse for cruelly taking James’ life. Not only that, Sparks’ actions mean James’ family are facing a first Christmas without him there. “I am proud of the work my investigation team has carried out in this case. From the moment the first call came into our control room, every single member of the team worked with a single-minded focus of catching the person responsible, putting them before the courts and ultimately securing a conviction and an appropriate sentence. Today, we have achieved that.” She added: “However, my thoughts today are entirely with James’ family and friends who have conducted themselves with incredible dignity throughout this whole investigation. “Nothing will bring James back, but I hope today brings his family and friends some comfort.”
Wednesday 3 November: Teenager convicted
A teenager has been convicted of murdering dad-of-four James Gibbons in an attack outside his home in Laindon.
James, 34, was stabbed four times in Iris Mews at around 9.30pm on Sunday 2 May. He had been holding a birthday party for his two young daughters.
Sadly, despite the best efforts of medics and our officers, James died at the scene.
James was stabbed four times by the teenager in an alleyway off Iris Mews after he had defended a man being abused by a group of young people.
A 16-year-old boy from Laindon was arrested and charged with his murder.
The teenager claimed he had brought a knife to the scene to protect himself against James, but the prosecution discredited this defence and he was today, Wednesday 3 November, found guilty of murder at Chelmsford Crown Court after a five-week trial.
The sentencing date is yet to be fixed.
In the hours after the murder, the teenager admitted to the stabbing in message in a Snapchat group, adding: “I don’t care, I’m a psychopath”.
He added: “I’ve just M someone off and that,” before finishing the conversation saying: “I might as well go and kill everyone else I don’t like”.
Speaking after the jury returned its verdict, Senior Investigating Officer DCI Louise Metcalfe, said:
“Today I am proud to say that we have achieved justice for James and for his family. My team have worked tirelessly on this investigation. “However, I know today’s verdict is little consolation for the loss of a beloved dad, partner, son, brother and uncle and nothing can bring James back. “And more than anything, today our thoughts are with James’ family. They have carried themselves with dignity throughout the investigation and throughout the trial. “The teenager convicted of murder used a variety of excuses to aid his defence, including claiming that he was scared of James so had brought a knife to the scene for his own protection. “James was not the aggressor. He had tragically become involved in a confrontation while defending another man and lost his life. That day, he had simply been celebrating his twin daughters’ birthday with friends and family. “Today is not a day to celebrate but I do hope this verdict provides some comfort to James’ family and they begin to move forward after their tragic loss.”
Dad James Gibbons celebrating his two-year-old twins' birthday hours before he was stabbed to death by a teenage boy
A statement from James' family
All of James’ family want to thank all those who were involved with this case.
First of all to the neighbours of James. To the police officers who were first on the scene. To the paramedics and ambulance crew. I know you all tried your hardest to save James’ life that night. We now know that there was nothing that could be done to save him.
To the Essex Police investigation team, of which there were many officers who worked quickly and tirelessly in getting the evidence and witnesses together.
To the prosecution team, for the hard work and hours you have put in to ensure that justice has been done today.
To our liaison officers, who have been our support and contact throughout this devastating time.
And to victim support, we thank you all.
James was a loving son, a devoted father to his four children, a protective brother, uncle, cousin and a perfect partner and soul mate to his fiancée, Victoria.
James was a grafter, a real hardworking man, who wanted nothing else but to provide for his family. He, Vicky and their children had their whole future to look forward to. Unfortunately, this has been taken from them.
James did not like bullies, and he would always be the one who would protect and look out for vulnerable people.
We are proud of him; he is our hero.
We have set up Facebook and Instagram pages, called justice4jamesg
We have set up these accounts in the hope that they will raise awareness and support others affected by knife crime and we urge the public to follow these pages to support our campaign.
And now it is time for us as a family to begin our grieving process, and finally lay James to rest in peace.