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Maidstone chef Enrique Pareja tried to intervene after man kicked Italian waiter Joele Leotta in the 'face or head', Maidstone Crown Court told

By Anna Young

A chef has told a jury how he tried to stop a fight that killed Italian waiter Joele Leotta, but was threatened by one of the attackers.

Enrique Pareja lived in a bedsit above Vesuvius restaurant, in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone, where he worked.

His room was on the same floor as Mr Leotta, 20, and his best friend Alex Galbiati, from Lecco in Italy, who had been in the country for six days and had started a trial job at the restaurant.

Joele Leotta suffered multiple injuries at a Maidstone bedsit

Mr Leotta suffered 100 injuries during an assault at the shared house on Sunday, October 20 last year and Mr Galbiati, also 20, was seriously wounded.

Yesterday, Spanish-born Mr Pareja started to give evidence at a trial investigating the incident.

Mr Pareja told Maidstone Crown Court he had finished work at the Italian eatery at about 10.30pm and was in his room when he heard people banging on a door and speaking loudly.

He said: "(I saw) guys talking and knocking on Alex's door. I don't know how many but four or five. I saw a guy with a knife in his hand."

According to Mr Galbiati, it was at this point - at about 11.15pm - that he and Mr Leotta were trying to stop intruders from coming into their room. But the men forced their way in and began attacking the two boys.

Alex Galbiati, Joele Leotta's childhood friend. Picture: Casate Online

Mr Pareja added: "I heard Alex was shouting. I stayed in my room because I was a bit panicked. After awhile I came out of my room. I saw Alex crying and his face had blood on it. Joele was on the floor. He was looked unconscious, practically."

The cook came out of his room when the noise stopped and gave Joele a glass of water, which the Italian vomited. Mr Pareja then went to call the restaurant owner, Alessandro Biscardi, for help.

He said: "When I went to my room to speak to Alessandro, two guys were arriving again. One of them kicked Joele in the face or the head.

"I tried to intervene but I was told to go to my room...and not to come out, and he (one of the men) shut the door. I was having a panic attack.

"I did what I what he told me (to do)...I was nervous, scared (and) I was afraid."

The witness, who spoke from behind a protective screen, said one of the men, who had a cut above his right eyebrow, looked aggressive and "ran very fast" before he kicked Mr Leotta in the face.

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

Mr Galbiati previously told the court he tried to barricade himself in the toilet when the attackers returned shortly after the first assault in the room he shared with Joele Leotta.

The victim said two of the men got into the bathroom and continued the beating until the he pretended to faint.

Mr Pareja, who said he heard Alex shouting and crying from the bathroom, emerged a short time later.

He said: "After I felt that there was calm and the noise had gone, I came out with apprehension. I saw that the bathroom was destroyed...Alex’s room was trashed completely. Nobody was in the room. (There was) blood everywhere."

Mr Pareja found Mr Galbiati outside the restaurant and Mr Leotta was at the bottom of the building’s stairway which leads to the street, where he was being treated by emergency services. The young Italian man died hours later.

Flowers left outside the Vesuvius Restaurant where Joele Leotta 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.

The prosecution claims the four defendants attacked the Italians because they believed the friends were responsible for a complaint about noise.

A grievance was lodged with the building's landlord the day before the incident, about loud music coming from the upper floors, where one of the defendants, Tomas Gelezinis, lived.

Philippa McAtasney QC previously told the court neither Alex Galbiati or Joele Leotta had complained.

The trial continues.

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