Michael Ugwa murder: Mum pays tribute as killer jailed
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The mother of Michael Ugwa has paid tribute to her “kind, compassionate, caring son” and thanked our officers 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 inside the food court of the Lakeside shopping centre at around 4.30pm on 28 April last year.
A family 'shattered'
In a statement following the sentencing, Michael’s mum 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.
“It breaks my heart to see how his now two year-old daughter, continues to look excitedly towards the door, waiting for her daddy that used to dance with her all the time and then breaking down into tears when she realises he isn’t coming. How his now eight-year-old son, continues to wake up crying for his Daddy every night. His now seven-year-old son, still remains in shock.
“His sisters and brother are still grieving the loss of their beloved brother, and the pain of his absence is felt every day. The thought of the sibling you grow up with and hope you would grow old with no longer being there is unimaginable to so many people, but to Michael’s siblings, it is the reality that they wake up to everyday.
“I grieve twice more each time I see how Michael's partner continues to struggle with his loss. They had plans to spend the rest of their lives together, but those plans were tragically cut short.
“As a mother, the pain of losing my son is unbearable. I never imagined that I would have to bury one of my children; that I would spend every waking moment suddenly expecting him to come back and tell me everything is ok; endlessly searching for his face whenever I am in public even though I know it is impossible.
“My son was a kind, compassionate, caring, sensible son that is no longer with us and will be missed every day.
“As I listened to the details of the trial, I was reminded of just how compassionate my son was. Even in the face of death he begged them to calm down when he saw how scared the children and their families were at the sight of a knife being drawn in the food court of a shopping mall in broad daylight.
“The grief of losing Michael has further been compounded by having had to relive the horror of my son’s murder over and over again.
“A trial that lasted nearly 6 weeks, hearing every painful detail of my sons last moments was difficult for us to comprehend as a family.
“We listened to the evidence against them. How the defendants tried to justify their actions on the day, yet there truly is no justification for taking a life of another.
“My family and I would like to thank Essex Police greatly for their diligence, thoroughness and painstaking hard work in ensuring that Michael’s murderer and accomplices did not evade justice.
“We have hope and confidence that Michael has found eternal rest with Our Lord, and that we will get to be with him again when we pass. We also dare to pray that no family will have to go through our experience.”
Attacked following a chance encounter
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.
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, sadly, died.
The entire incident was caught on several of Lakeside’s 362 CCTV cameras.
Khan was convicted of murder on 22 May, 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 27 July), 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 in prison, while Weston was given a two year suspended sentence.
“This case serves as a warning of the dangers of carrying a knife”
“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.
“Khan had tried to claim he was carrying the knife for self-protection but the CCTV footage clearly shows he was in no danger and it was he and Lutchmunsing who were the aggressors.
“The fact of the matter is you do not go out with a knife if you do not have some intent on using it.
“Had he not been carrying it, he and Lutchmunsing would not be facing a long stretch in prison, Michael’s children would not be growing up without their father, and his family would not be grieving the loss of a much-loved fiancé, son, brother, uncle, and cousin.
“I hope this case serves as a warning to anyone else considering carrying a knife of the dangers of doing so.”