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Teen, 16, is found guilty of murder after knifing to death father, 34

Teen thug, 16, is found guilty of murder after knifing to death Good Samaritan, 34, who told gang to stop harassing rough sleeper outside his home on day of his twin daughters’ second birthday party

  • Teenager knifed James Gibbons, 34, outside his home in Laindon, Essex, after 
  • Father-of-four had stepped in to stop gang of teens harassing homeless man 
  • Boy who can’t be named plunged a six-inch knife into Mr Gibbons four times
  • Mr Gibbons’s family openly gasp and weep at Chelmsford Crown Court today

A 16-year-old boy was today found guilty of murdering a Good Samaritan father during his twin daughters’ second birthday party.

The teenager knifed James Gibbons, 34, outside his home in Laindon, Essex, after the father-of-four stepped in to stop a gang of teens harassing a homeless man.

The boy plunged a six-inch knife into Mr Gibbons four times, leaving him to die just yards from where the kitchen fitter had spent the afternoon with his family.

The boy denied a single count of murder but was found guilty by a majority verdict of ten to two following a four-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The killer, who cannot be named due to his age, showed no reaction as the jury of seven women and five men returned its verdict after 14 hours of deliberation.

James Gibbons (pictured), 34, was stabbed after rushing to the aid of a homeless man outside his house in Laindon, Essex, just moments after he had kindly given the man a plate of food

Mr Gibbons’s family openly gasped and wept today as the foreman of the jury read out the verdict, six months after the incident at about 10pm on May 2 this year.

The stabbing happened moments after Mr Gibbons was involved in a confrontation with friends of the defendant just yards from his home.

Simon Taylor QC, prosecuting, told jurors Mr Gibbons was yards from his home in Iris Mews in Laindon, when the defendant stabbed him four times.

Mr Gibbons’s partner, Victoria Billingham, said she remembered him leaving their twin daughters’ birthday barbecue to speak to a homeless man, called Christopher French, outside.

‘When he returned he told her there were a couple of 15-year-olds that were bullying Chris, taking advantage and eating his food,’ said Mr Taylor.

‘He then said he was going to have another cigarette outside with Mr French to make sure he was OK.’

She later heard a ‘loud thudding at the door’, was told to call an ambulance and saw Mr Gibbons was injured, Mr Taylor said.

The jury was told at the opening of the case was ‘no dispute’ the teenager had stabbed Mr Gibbons four times in his stomach.

The father (pictured with his family) was stabbed by the 16-year-old earlier this year on May 2

What was crucial was whether those actions had been in self defence.

The stabbing happened in alleyway close to Mr Gibbons’s home but that the crucial moment was not captured on CCTV.

The court heard that in the moments before the killing Mr Gibbons had given food to a homeless man – Mr French – who came to his house.

They were chatting when a group of youths walked past and one came over and started pulling Mr French’s hooded top whilst another then tried to take the plate of food away.

Mr Gibbons is said to have told the youths that they ‘should get lost’ or he would ‘knock them out’.

The two youngsters left but returned about five to ten minutes later, with a much larger group of youths, mainly aged about 12 or 13 and two older ones aged between 17 and 19.

After more shouting and confrontation Mr French said he saw Mr Gibbons chase the youngsters down an alleyway.

The jury heard how Mr Gibbons then came back ‘flapping his arms’ before lifting his top up to reveal he had been stabbed before falling backwards.

Police launched a murder investigation after Mr Gibbons died in Laindon, Essex, in May

The post mortem results led pathologists to estimate the blade used to stab Mr Gibbons was about six inches long.

The weapon used to kill Mr Gibbons has never been found.

Hours after the brutal killing the teen tearfully called his girlfriend and during a 43-minute call he said ‘a man has been stabbed, I think he’s dead’.

In another messaged to a pal he declared he had ‘ducked up’ – which was auto-corrected from ‘f***ed up’.

After the attack, in a group chat, a friend told him to ‘stay low, low, low, do not go anywhere yet and when you do, have a coronavirus mask on’.

He was then asked: ‘Have you got the knife from when you done it?’ to which he responded with ‘OFC’ – a shortened version of ‘of course’.

In the hours after the murder the teen searched the internet for news of what happened. He also investigated ‘consequences of accidentally stabbing someone’.

To another friend, he laughed as he boasted he had knifed Mr Gibson multiple times – saying ‘I chinged [slang for knifed] him 25 times.’

Mr Taylor told the jury: ‘He was laughing when he said it.’

Mr French, the homeless man fed by Mr Gibbons, was confronted by a gang of kids, one of whom ‘lobbed’ a brick which hit him in the head.

He said he did not witness the moment Mr Gibbons, who he knew as ‘Gibbo’, was stabbed.

Mr French earlier described how he had been given a plate of hot barbecue food outside Mr Gibbons’s house and chatted to him and his friends.

The defendant was remanded in custody while a pre-sentence report is prepared about him.

He will be sentenced on a date to be fixed in around three weeks’ time.

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