Muhammed Khan has been found guilty of murder (credit: Essex Police)
Muhammed Khan fatally stabbed Michael Ugwa, 29, on Friday, 28 April last year following an altercation.
Khan, 23, from Ilford was found guilty of murder and affray in a trial yesterday (Monday, 22 May) at Basildon Crown Court.
Michael was walking through the food hall with two friends when he made his way past a kiosk where Muhammad Khan, 23, Brandon Lutchmunsing, 20, and Shannon Weston, 21, were sitting.
An altercation broke out between the two groups who exchanged words, leading to Khan and Lutchmunsing chasing off Ugwa’s friends before effectively cornering him.
Khan was armed with a flick knife.
Michael picked up a chair from the seating area in an attempt to defend himself but dropped it as Lutchmunsing threw another chair at him.
Khan then approached Michael from his left hand side, stabbing him under the arm, through his ribs and puncturing his heart.
Khan and Lutchmunsing then ran off through the centre of Primark and met up with Weston who had already left the area.
Meanwhile, Michael made his way to the top of the escalators at the entrance to the food court where he collapsed.
The whole incident was caught on a number of Lakeside’s 362 CCTV cameras.
Lutchmunsing, of Grafton Road, Dagenham, was arrested on suspicion of murder and Weston, of Paddocks Close, Canewdon was arrested on Tuesday, 2 May on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Two days later, Khan was also arrested on suspicion of murder.
They were all later charged and pleaded not guilty.
They all appeared at Basildon Crown court yesterday following a trial (Monday, 22 May).
A jury found Lutchmunsing not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and affray.
Weston was found guilty of three counts of assisting an offender.
Khan will appear back at the same court for sentencing on Tuesday, 27 June after being found guilty of murder.
Senior investigating officer, Temporary Detective Chief Inspector, Julie Gowen said: “First and foremost my thoughts are with Michael Ugwa’s family who have shown great dignity through the investigation and court case.
“No conviction will ever bring Michael back but I hope this represents justice for them and helps them move forward.
“Although this incident played out over the course of a few minutes, the fatal assault was over in a matter of seconds.
“This case shows the tragic consequences that carrying a knife can have and how quickly an incident can escalate when weapons are involved.
“Khan had tried to claim he was carrying the knife for self protection but there was no suggestion that he was in any danger in this incident.
“To the contrary, it was he and Brandon Lutchmunsing who were the aggressors, instigating the confrontation, chasing off Michael Ugwa’s friends, and cornering him before he lunged at him and stabbing him.
“The fact of the matter is you do not go out with a knife if you do not have some intent on using it.
“And if Khan had not had that knife, we would not be here today. He would not be facing a life sentence, 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.”
Centre Director at Lakeside, Howard Oldstein said: “This was a tragic incident and we extend our deepest condolences to Michael’s family and friends.
“We know that many will have been shocked by the news, but we would like to reassure all that incidents of this nature are incredibly rare – and that this was an isolated case.
“Here at Lakeside, the safety and wellbeing of all who visit the centre is our number one priority.
“We have a highly trained security team on site, able to respond quickly to any issue, as well as a close working relationship with the local police – with a dedicated Lakeside team making regular patrols.”
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