TRIBUTES have been paid to a man who died following an assault at the Lakeside shopping centre as two people are charged in connection with his murder.
Michael Ugwa, 29, from Rainham, was assaulted within the food court at the centre shortly before 4.30pm last Thursday (28 April).
Sadly, despite the best efforts of the emergency services, he died at the scene.
A man and a woman were arrested on Monday (2 May) and they have both now been charged.
Brandon Lutchmunsing, 19, of Grafton Road, Dagenham has been charged with murder and affray.
Shannon Weston, 20, of Paddocks Close, Canewdon has been charged with assisting an offender.
They both appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday 4 May) and were remanded in custody and are both due to appear before Basildon Crown Court on Friday (6 May).
Paying tribute to Michael, his mother said in a statement: “Michael was a kind man with a large personality and an even larger heart. He was special to a great many people and so it is with great sorrow that we are writing about his untimely passing.
“Within his family, there isn’t a single person among us who doesn’t have a good story or fond memory of Michael and as we receive the condolences of many people. We are humbled by just how many lives he touched during his short stay on this Earth.
“As with many people, he was not a man without fault but, his desire to always try to better himself and strive for a brighter tomorrow made him a rich source of inspiration to not only his children, cousins, nieces and nephews but also to everyone who desired to see that silver lining.
“From being the first to step up when a member of the family was homeless and took them, to being the last to leave when his brother, my son, went through surgery, you could always count on him to be the staunchest supporter in your corner, a privilege that those of us, his family, were especially privy to.
He was truly a gift that kept giving, a loving and supportive partner to his would-have-been wife, a great father to his three children, a caring brother, and a pillar of support to me, his mum, and wider family in general, including his aunts, uncles and all his cousins.
“He was the kindest soul of all, as well as the most dependable friend anyone could ever have been blessed with.
“Even though Michael has passed, and the pain of his death will be with us forever, we all choose to be like Michael and look for that silver lining in the sea of dark clouds, in the hope that the legacy he left us will long outlive the pain we feel.
“We thank everyone who has reached out to us during this most painful and saddest period of our lives, and we offer them our own condolences, as it is not only his family that has been dealt such a cruel blow. We express our support for everyone who is finding it as difficult as we are, to cope with his passing.
“Words alone can never describe what we, as a family are going through right now, and will go through for the rest of our lives.
“To us, the ones, left behind to pick up the pieces, our day has suddenly turned to night, our light to darkness and our hearts so indescribably and irreversibly shattered.
“We remain steadfast in our trust in God, as we look unto Him to grant us the peace, grace and strength that we need.
“We also ask that we be given the privacy and space that we need to grieve.
Detective Chief Inspector Ashley Howard, who’s leading the investigation, said: “As these charges highlight, our investigation is progressing but doesn’t stop.
“We still believe this attack was directed towards the victim and that the incident poses no ongoing threat to people shopping, eating, and socialising at Lakeside.
“We continue to make inquiries and need anyone who has any information who has not identified themselves to police, to contact us.”
A special portal has been set up through which information can be reported.
You can find it here: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/4201020122Q09-PO1
Alternatively, you can submit a report online at https://www.essex.police.uk or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.
Please quote incident 750 of 28 April.
You can also call us on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.