"Lakeside is safe" - Thurrock's policing District Commander insists after a man was convicting of murdering a father of three at the shopping centre.

Michael Ugwa, 29, died after being stabbed at Lakeside Shopping Centre on April 28 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.

Temporary Chief Inspector Tony Atkin, District Commander for Thurrock, said: “This was a tragic incident where Michael Ugwa needlessly lost his life.

“This would have been shocking for people at Lakeside at the time. This was an isolated as a result of a chance meeting and interaction and, thankfully, incidents of violence at the shopping centre are really rare. 

“I want to reassure people that Lakeside is a safe place and you shouldn’t be afraid of going there. Lakeside hosts thousands of people daily, who go about their business without incident.

“We work hard with Lakeside’s management team to ensure your safety including regular patrols by our dedicated Lakeside team in and around the shopping centre.

“In February alone my team there completed more than 150 hours of high visibility foot patrols.

“They are supported by the centre’s management and security teams, and have also built great relationships with people who work there. 

“These connections mean they can respond swiftly to incidents and identify potential suspects.

“And the fantastic CCTV coverage at the centre is one of the reasons we’ve been able to bring Michael’s killer to justice.”

Howard Oldstein, Centre Director at Lakeside, 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.”