A teenager was surrounded by a group of boys while shopping with his mother weeks before he was stabbed to death, a court heard.

Mustafa Momand’s mother had taken the 17-year-old to Churchill Square shopping centre in Brighton when he bumped into the gang who knew about a shared £20,000 drug debt he had.

They said they would not attack him in front of his mother because she was Muslim and they did not want to out of respect, Brighton Youth Court heard yesterday.

Mustafa, from Brighton, was stabbed to death less than two weeks later on October 5 in broad daylight near Brighton Station.

The Argus: Mustafa Momand died in October last yearMustafa Momand died in October last year (Image: Family handout)

He told his parents that he owed thousands of pounds that he needed to pay or “they will kill me” because of money and drugs that police had seized off him.

The court heard how his behaviour had escalated from having bags of cannabis in his room at the age of 15 to going missing for up to a month at a time. His parents ended up finding 30 bags of crack cocaine, £800 cash and a knuckle duster.

They “begged” authorities to send their son to juvenile prison as they “feared for his life”. He was moved into social care in Bevendean in January 2023 and then South Croydon in April that year where they felt he might be able to get away from trouble, the court heard.

His mother Suraya Momand wanted to buy him new clothes for when he started a business and law course in South Croydon where he was living in social care. “He wanted to be a lawyer to help exploited children,” she said.

They went to Churchill Square on September 23, less than two weeks before he was fatally stabbed by a 16-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Nathan Rasiah KC, prosecuting, said the accused boy accepts it was him and that he had a knife, but “denies having the necessary intent for murder”.

The Argus: The police cordon the night of the stabbingThe police cordon the night of the stabbing (Image: The Argus)

Mr Rasiah said that at Churchill Square Mustafa bumped into a young man who appeared shocked to see him.

"They greeted each other but Mustafa’s mood changed. He seemed worried and wanted to leave. A group of young men then surrounded him outside JD Sports but let him go and said to run," he said.

“They ran back to the car and he was very shaken. As he was with his mother they would not attack him out of respect for her but he should run."

Mustafa received a call from the person who had told him to run, the court heard. He then called his friends and appeared to be joking about the fact that the group that had surrounded him had just let him go.

In messages read out in court, Mustafa told a friend that 11 people surrounded him from “Gotti’s lil army” and "begged" him "not to tell Gotti they didn’t do nothing” [sic] to him.

"It is not suggested that the defendant was one of that group but messages sent from Mustafa to a friend indicate a connection," said Mr Rasiah.

The 16-year-old is also accused over two other separate incidents in July and August 2023  - threatening another with a bladed article and threatening with an offensive weapon, which he denies.

The trial continues.