Homeless man tells court a man gave him food before teen stabbed him to death

·3-min read
James Gibbons, who was stabbed to death during an alleged altercation with a group of young people (Essex Police/PA) (PA Media)
James Gibbons, who was stabbed to death during an alleged altercation with a group of young people (Essex Police/PA) (PA Media)

A homeless man told a court he was given barbecue food by a father who was celebrating his twin daughters’ second birthday before he was stabbed to death.

James Gibbons, 34, was yards from his home in Iris Mews in Laindon Essex on May 2 when he was stabbed. A 16-year-old boy is accused of murdering him by stabbing him four times in the abdomen.

Homeless at the time, 32-year-old Christopher French told Chelmsford Crown Court that he had been sleeping under a stairwell in Iris Mews.

He said that Mr Gibbons, who he knew as Gibbo, “was having a barbecue with his kids and gave me something to eat”.

“He gave me something to eat, gave me a burger, stuff like that,” he said.

Mr Gibbons was 'surrounded by youths yards from his home address'

Simon Taylor QC

He said that as the pair were talking they were approached by two people, with one of them pulling his hoody and the other trying to take his food.

He said: “Gibbo got annoyed with that.”

Mr French tried to push one of them away, he said, adding that he told them to “get lost” and they “eventually” went away.

He said that a “group or gang came along”, whom he described as a “bunch of kids”.

He said someone threw a brick, which struck his head.

Mr French said he did not see anybody attack Mr Gibbons when he walked into an alleyway but he heard a noise.

When asked to describe the sound by the prosecutor, Simon Taylor QC, Mr French made a fist with one hand and hit his other hand.

“I saw him come back and he started wobbling around,” said Mr French.

“He fell back on the floor.”

He went on: “I called the ambulance service from my phone and tried to quickly rush and knock on the door.”

He said the “kids” ran off and people came out to try to resuscitate Mr Gibbons.

Mr Taylor said the defendant, who denies murder, searched on the internet for “stabbing in Laindon” and “consequences of accidentally killing someone” in the early hours of May 3.

He said a youth heard the defendant say, in a phone call on loudspeaker to another youth: “I chinged him 25 times”.

“According to (the youth, the defendant) was laughing as he said it,” said Mr Taylor, adding that the youth’s understanding was that “chinged” meant stabbed.

The defendant was arrested at his home address at 5.35am on May 3 and when interviewed by police said that all he knew about the incident was what officers had told him, Mr Taylor said.

In a second interview he was told that two youths had said he “was responsible” for the incident.

He then gave no comment on the advice of a solicitor, Mr Taylor said.

The prosecutor said the defendant “willingly involved himself in violence against James Gibbons when there was no need to do so”.

He said that CCTV showed that Mr Gibbons was “surrounded by youths yards from his home address”.

“While it could be said James Gibbons was standing his ground and getting in the face of the youths he was no threat to them and yet he died at (the defendant’s) hands,” said Mr Taylor.

He said that “whether it was to appear a big man in front of the females and his near peers… (the defendant) was intent on violence”.

He said the defendant ran off to get a weapon then came back and used it.

“Deliberately securing a weapon, then returning to the scene, then stabbing a man not once, not twice but four times, we say can only have been accompanied by an intent to cause really serious harm,” Mr Taylor said.

“That’s why the Crown say (the defendant’s) guilty of murder.”

The trial continues.

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