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Alex Galbiati gives evidence at a trial into death of friend Joele Leotta, fatally injured above Vesuvius restaurant in Maidstone

By Anna Young

A young Italian man who survived an attack which killed his best friend, has given evidence at a murder trial.

Alex Galbiati, 20, was seriously injured in the beating above Vesuvius restaurant, in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone, where he and his childhood friend, Joele Leotta, had secured work.

Mr Leotta, also 20, suffered 100 injuries during the attack on Sunday, October 20 last year and died hours later in hospital.

Tragic Joele Leotta had only just arrived in Kent when he was fatally injured

Aleksandras Zuravliovas, 26, of Beaumont Road; Tomas Gelezinis, 31, of Lower Stone Street; Saulius Tamoliunas, 24, of Union Street; and 21-year-old Linas Zidonis, of no fixed address, who are all Lithuanian, deny murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Today, Mr Galbiati told Maidstone Crown Court how the pair, who were friends from nursery school, had only arrived in the town six days before the assault.

Alex Galbiati with best friend Joele Leotta, who was fatally injured in a Maidstone bedsit
Alex Galbiati, Joele Leotta's childhood friend. Picture: Casate Online

Philippa McAtasney QC, prosecuting, asked the witness why they had moved to Maidstone from their villages in Italy’s Lecco province.

Speaking from a behind a protective screen, Mr Galbiati said: “Because we found a work opportunity which we could not find in Italy.

"Initially (work was offered) only to Joele. Joele said he was coming over with me and the owner of the restaurant said he could find me work."

Mr Galbiati was employed as a pot washer and Mr Leotta was a waiter. They were living in a bedsit above the eatery, which was split into several bedrooms across three floors.

Alex Galbiati with Joele Leotta's mother at his funeral. Picture by Casate Online.

The prosecution claims the Lithuanian men attacked the two Italians because they believed they had complained to the landlord about noise from the top floor of the building, where Gelezinis lived.

Mr Galbiati said there had been loud music from the upper floors one evening but that he and Mr Leotta had not been concerned about it and had not complained.

Miss McAtasney told the court last week how the victims were “punched, kicked and hit with whatever came to hand” when intruders forced their way into their room on the night of the fatal incident.

Mr Galbiati added that a few nights before the attack, someone had tried to enter their bedroom just after midnight but the door was locked.

“One evening, a guy tried to open the door to our bedroom and then left,” he said.

“I can’t remember precisely but I think it was the same evening as the loud music, probably the Wednesday or Thursday but I couldn't be sure.”

Members of the jury visited the scene of the incident, this morning.

Flowers left outside the Vesuvius Restaurant where Joele Leotta was fatally injured

The trial continues.

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