Dad of four, 34, knifed to death after offering food from twins' 2nd birthday barbecue to homeless man

A DAD of four was knifed to death when he tried to stop teenagers picking on a homeless man.

Caring James Gibbons, 34, had gone to offer the man food from his barbie.

Locals said the teens had been terrorising the neighbourhood on scooters and shouting abuse.

James was trying to chase them off when it is believed they stabbed him with a knife one was carrying. He died yards from fiancée Victoria Billingham and their four children.

Three males and two females, aged 13 to 16, have been arrested on suspicion of murder. Two were in custody last night. The others have been released under investigation.

Family members paid tribute to “Gibbo” tonight saying they were “absolutely broken beyond belief”.

They said in a statement: “James was an amazing father of four young children, engaged to his partner of 11 years, and was a loving and supportive son and brother.

“James was a hard-working ­family-orientated man, who ran his own bathroom fitting company and was looking forward to a positive future for him and his family.


“This tragedy occurred after he had spent the day celebrating his two-year-old twin girls’ birthday at home and we are absolutely broken beyond belief at this pointless loss which has had a devastating effect on us all.

“James was the kind of person who would always be prepared to help anyone less fortunate than himself, which is what he was doing on Sunday night.

“As a family we are urging anyone to come forward with any information that may help the police as they investigate James’s death in the hope we can get justice.”

The savage killing happened in Laindon, Essex, at 9.30pm on Sunday. A close family friend told The Sun: “James was having a barbecue. It was his twins’ birthday a week or so ago.

“He had seen a man who was living on the streets earlier in the day.

We are absolutely broken beyond belief at this pointless loss which has had a devastating effect on us all.

“He decided to take him some food, which is so kind of him and shows what kind of guy he was.

“This group of teenagers were attacking the man on the street and when James saw him he bravely stepped in.

“He was then stabbed by the kids who had been attacking the other man. The family are devastated, James was incredible and their kids have lost their dad.”

Yesterday James’s mum Wendy was driving back from Europe to be with her family — six years after she lost son Ashley, 26, to an epileptic fit.

The friend added: “Wendy and her husband live in Spain, so as soon as they heard what happened they’ve come straight home. It’s awful, James was an incredible guy.”

A neighbour told the Sun: “There was a gang of kids seen drinking around the estate all day making a nuisance of themselves.”

Another added: “The kids started a fight (with the homeless man) then the second man, who was stabbed, tried to calm it all down.”


Resident and mum-of-five Michaela Hales, 38, said: “I can’t believe how young the kids are. We are thinking of moving out and renting privately now.

“You don’t want this on your doorstep. I can’t live here now. The kids are 13 and 14 years old. It is just shocking.

“My children are too young to go out on their own but I wouldn’t want them going out now.

“Kids are hanging about a lot but you don’t think too much of it until something like this happens.”

Another local said: “You’ve always had pockets of kids hanging around and drinking all over the town.

“That’s always happened, but this is just a new level of violence.

“A lot of people don’t go out late at night because of the gangs of teenagers hanging about.”

Notes left with flowers at the scene described tragic James as “one in a million”.

Under a picture of smiling James cuddling Victoria and their children, a friend wrote: “This breaks my heart.”

James’s death came six years after brother Ashley — described as “loyal and a fantastic uncle” — passed away unexpectedly from an epileptic seizure.

Friend Kerri Goss wrote on Facebook: “I have never known a family to have a bond that even comes close to theirs.

“That’s how I know you’ll get through this, forever looking out for each other, extending to friends that became family, never leaving one person not knowing how much they are loved and appreciated.

“They lived life to the fullest each and every day. I feel blessed to have known their huge personalities, loved by the biggest hearts and felt the uniqueness they brought into the world.

“My thoughts are with all of your family, everyone will forever hold you in their hearts and cherish the memories you graced us with, rest in eternal paradise boys James, Ashley.”

Another friend, Kayleigh Bartholomew, added: “In shock, a caring man till the end, that man a true gent. Sleep tight James Gibbons.


“You’re with your baby bro again now as much as it kills me to write that.

“Love you always thinking of your family forever in our hearts. Rest in perfect paradise boys.”

Kane Evans added: “Rest in peace my brother, gone but never forgotten. What a genuine man.”

Danielle Nicholas wrote: “So heartbreaking, my head still can’t get round it. RIP to one of the kindest men I’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing. You’re with your brother now.”

Det Chief Supt Steve Jennings, of Essex Police, said: “A family has been broken apart, and we need to get to the bottom of what happened.

The Sun says

THE killing of kind-hearted dad James ­Gibbons by feral teenagers is appalling.

Not least because he was stabbed feeding and defending a homeless man.

Our hearts go out to his young family.

Let there be no mercy for the vicious thugs responsible.

“Our enquiries have led us to believe the victim was going to the aid of another man and, as a result, he lost his life during an altercation which ensued with a group of young people not directly known to him.

"It is a tragic loss of life and we are continuing to appeal for the public’s help.”

Police want to hear from anyone who may have seen or heard anything in Iris Mews just before 9.30pm on Sunday, and anyone who may have seen any discarded weapons.

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