The first image of Joshua Sparks, the boy who stabbed his father to death

Joshua Sparks was jailed for life with a minimum of 13 years on Friday (Image: PA/Essex Police)

The first photo shows a teenage boy stabbing a father of four who was celebrating his twin daughters’ birthdays.

Joshua Sparks, 16, stabbed James Gibbons, 34, to death after his father challenged his partner for harassing a homeless man outside his home in Laindon, Essex – and subsequently laugh and brag about it to his friends.

James was having a barbecue for his daughters’ birthday when he saw Christopher French approach the house and step out to give him a plate of hot food, a sleeping bag, pillows and blankets.

The pair were chatting when two undressed young men in a larger group were walking nearby, pulling on Mr. French’s hoodie and trying to snatch his plate of food.

The youths cringed as James confronted them but quickly turned back with a larger group ‘surrounding’ him a few meters home from him, jurors at Chelmsford Crown Court were told.

James was led into an alley, then Mr French heard noises and found him ‘staggered’ as he emerged before collapsing as he walked home.

Sparks denied the murder, saying he was acting in self-defence, but was found guilty by a 10 to two majority ruling following a trial last month.

Gibbons is remembered as a ‘hero’ who refused to bully (Image: EssexLive/BPM)
A High Court judge turned down Sparks’ chance to remain anonymous due to his age (Image: Essex Police)

The Supreme Court judge overseeing the case lifted his order to protect his identity by giving him a life sentence with a minimum term of 13 years.

Gibbons’ family described him as a ‘hero’ in a statement released after Sparks was convicted.

It said: ‘James does not like bullies, and he will always be protective and caring for the vulnerable.

‘We are proud of him; he is our hero. ‘

They celebrated him as a ‘hard-working man, a real hard-working man who wanted nothing more than to provide for his family’, adding: ‘He, (his partner) her) Vicky and their children have their whole future to look forward to.

‘Unfortunately, this was taken from them.’

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Huynh Nguyen

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