A TEENAGE boy has denied stabbing a dad-of-four to death outside his home on his twin daughters' second birthday.
James Gibbons, 34, was found lying unconscious near his house in Laindon, Essex, on May 2 and was pronounced dead at the scene.
A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to the single charge of murder.
An inquest into James' death, which was opened and adjourned earlier this year, heard his provisional medical cause of death was recorded as stab wounds to the abdomen.
The self-employed plumber had celebrated his two-year-old twin daughters' birthday earlier that day, his family said.
They described him as an "amazing father", and the "kind of person who would always be prepared to help anyone less fortunate than himself".
The teenage defendant has been remanded and is due to stand trial from October 4.
Witnesses said at the time James had been trying to stop a group of teenagers from picking on a homeless man when he was attacked.
Following his death, grieving family members said 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.”
Notes left with flowers at the scene described tragic James as “one in a million”.
Under a picture of smiling James cuddling his wife 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.”
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