The family of a teenager who was murdered at a house party in Leeds has paid tribute to him after the men believed to have wrongly targeted him were sentenced today.
Trust Junior Jordan Gangata, aged 17, was assaulted at the residence in Salisbury Grove, Armley, during the early hours of Sunday, March 19, sustaining 15 stab wounds. Despite being swiftly transported to the hospital by ambulance, he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
The horrific incident unfolded when masked men entered the premises, prompting terrified partygoers to flee in panic. Trust Junior was chased into the kitchen, where he suffered fatal injuries. A post-mortem examination revealed wounds to his heart, lung, and liver.
The attack followed a prior altercation involving Karl Belinga, one of the assailants, who had fought with another individual at the party, leaving him with facial injuries. Fueled by a desire for revenge, Belinga, along with friends Paul Mbwasse and Karlson Ogie, recruited Brandon Paradzai, who drove them to the address.
Despite Belinga’s acquaintance with Trust Junior, identified as ‘TJ,’ the group wrongly targeted him, resulting in his tragic death. A murder investigation was initiated by the West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team.
The perpetrators, Belinga, Mbwasse, and Ogie, turned themselves in on the same day, while Mbwasse was arrested the following day. Although they pleaded not guilty, a trial concluded on November 30, finding Belinga, Mbwasse, and Ogie guilty of murder, with Paradzai convicted of manslaughter.
At Leeds Crown Court today, Belinga, now 20, Mbwasse, 19, and Ogie, 19, received life sentences with a minimum term of 23 years each. Paradzai, 20, was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Matt Holdsworth said: “Trust Junior’s murder was utterly senseless, given the circumstances in which it occurred, and his family are understandably still in complete disbelief that he could be wrongly targeted by people who knew him and who would have had no reason to do him harm.
“It should be made very clear that Trust Junior was not involved in gangs or criminality in any way and was just an innocent teenage boy who had gone to a party to see friends and enjoy himself on a Saturday night.
“Armed with knives and seeking revenge, those convicted of his murder appear to have worked themselves up into a rage that tragically cost Trust Junior his life and has left his family completely devastated.
“His death very starkly shows the terrible consequences that can occur when young men are prepared to carry knives and use them in an attempt to settle a score.
“Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Trust Junior’s family and, while we recognise that no sentence will ever compensate them for their loss, we hope it will provide some measure of reassurance to them to know that the men responsible for his death have had to answer for their actions.”
A statement from TJ’s mother Anna Gangata:
“No parent should have to lose a child, but to lose a child suddenly, unexpectedly and finding out that your son has been murdered is indescribable.
“I should be able to watch TJ fall in love, fall out of love, go to university, get his first job, become accomplished, get married, buy his first home, have his own children, grow old. I am robbed of all those opportunities, all those milestones you should be able to watch your child achieve. Those responsible for his death have robbed me of those opportunities due to their motivation to seek revenge, to murder.
“TJ’s murder has impacted every single member of our family, there are no words to describe the utter devastation his death has caused our family.
“At the time of his death, TJ was a student at Notre Dame Catholic College in Leeds. He was studying Economics and Business. He was a good student and extremely popular in school. TJ had a dream to be an entrepreneur, he was very business-minded. I know whatever TJ did with his life he was destined for success.
“I will always remember TJ for being extremely polite and well-mannered. He was kind and warm-hearted and would help me in the house and anyone in need. He enjoyed socialising with his friends and had a lot of friends from all over Leeds, who he had met through the church, sport, school, and music. He was unlike the usual teenage boy, he was extremely loving and would always give me a hug; I miss this terribly.
“Why did they kill TJ? He was not violent, he was not in a gang, he did not carry a knife. Why?
“The loss of TJ has destroyed everything we once enjoyed. He was the gentlest, most caring person. No one could comprehend he would suffer violence of any kind.
“If any good can come out of TJ’s death, I would ask that lessons are learnt, and no other parent must lose a son or daughter due to knife crime. Individuals need to stop arming themselves with weapons which can inflict such damage and devastation. I ask anyone who carries a knife or thinks of carrying a knife to stop and think about TJ.”
A statement from TJ’s father Trust Gangata:
“Trust Junior Jordan Gangata, or TJ as he was known, was my son, and only 17 years of age at the time he was murdered, stabbed to death whilst attending a party. He was innocent in every way and was simply with friends happily enjoying himself on that key night.
“Those convicted of his murder went to a party to hurt or kill another boy; however, they killed the wrong person. In their rage of revenge, they murdered my child. TJ was not in a gang, he didn’t carry a knife, he didn’t have any trouble with anyone, he didn’t do drugs, he didn’t even drink alcohol.
“TJ was a straight up young man with integrity and very much loved by everyone. He was an entrepreneur, even at his young age he bought and sold things on the internet to make money which he was very generous with. He was organised and focused in his business matters and I am sure that he would have gone on to be a great success in whatever he did in life. But he was viciously robbed of that opportunity in the early hours of the 19th March.
“These young men who stand here having been convicted of my son’s murder. Knives ended his life and you have caused total devastation to ours. You write or listen to music that glorifies gang culture and the using of knives and violence in its lyrics. Look what you have done, look who you have taken from the world.
“I am just trying to hold on, trying to support his sister Emma and brother Emmanuel to the best of my ability. TJ was the strongest in our family you see and without him I feel lost and alone. We are left with only memories of our beloved son, brother and friend. The court has imposed these sentences, but they are nothing compared to our sentence, which is a lifetime without TJ.”