The murder of a father-of-three infront of horrified shoppers at Lakeside Shopping Centre shows the consequences of carrying a knife, a police boss has insisted.

A man has been convicted of the murder of Michael Ugwa at the Lakeside shopping centre following an investigation by specialist detectives.

Twenty-nine year-old Michael had gone to the shopping centre with two friends on the afternoon of 28 April last year.

23-year-old Muhammad Khan, of no fixed address, Ilford, has been found guilty of murdering Mr Ugwa today as the jury returned its verdict at Basildon Crown Court.

Brandon Lutchmunsing, 20, of Grafton Way, Dagenham was found guilty of manslaughter. Both men were found guilty of affray.

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.

Shannon Weston, 21, of Paddocks Close, Canewdon, was foud guilty of four counts of assisting an offender.

The jury unanimously found Khan guilty of murdering Mr Ugwa at Lakeside Shopping Centre last year.

Lutchmunsing was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The two men and one woman will be sentenced on June 27.

During the trial, the jury was told how altercation had occurred after Mr Ugwa, from Rainham made comments about Lutchmunsing’s girlfriend Shannon Weston.

“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 and Lutchmunsing 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.”