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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Aleksandras Zuravliovas denies involvement in fatal attack on Italian Joele Leotta at his bedsit in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone

16 May 2014
by Keith Hunt

One of four men accused of killing Italian waiter Joele Leotta claimed he knew nothing about the attack, a court heard yesterday.

Aleksandras Zuravliovas told police he went to flats at Lower Stone Street in Maidstone to see a friend and ended up being struck on the head.

When asked if he assaulted Mr Leotta, the 27-year-old Lithuanian gave a prepared statement the day after Mr Leotta was fatally injured in an alleged group attack at his bedsit above Vesuvious restaurant in Lower Stone Street on October 20 last year.

Joele Leotta

Joele Leotta

It read: “Last night I cannot recall much. I attended Lower Stone Street and the next thing I know I received a heavy blow to my head and was rendered unconscious.”

Zuravliovas’ solicitor advised him to exercise his right to silence and say “no comment”, but he continued to answer questions.

He said he popped into the building to see his friend Lucas and was hit as he left to go home to his girlfriend by 8pm.

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

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

“I remember it was some sort of conflict, but I don’t understand,” he continued. “I was drunk. I heard something like ‘Italia, Italia’ from the second floor I think.

“I think I replied: ‘What Italia?’ Somebody opened the door and hit me on the head with a stick. I don’t remember this moment clearly.”

Maidstone Crown Court has heard Mr Leotta, 20, suffered 100 injuries in what the prosecution described as “a senseless attack of brutal, drunken violence”.

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

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

Alex Galbiati with best friend Joele Leotta, who was fatally injured in a Maidstone bedsit

Alex Galbiati with best friend Joele Leotta, who was fatally injured in a Maidstone bedsit

Zuravliovas, of Beaumont Road, Tomas Gelezinis, 31, of Lower Stone Street, Saulius Tamoliunas, 24, of Union Street, and Linas Zidonis, 21, of no fixed address, all deny murdering Mr Leotta and wounding his friend Alex Galbiati, 20, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Philippa McAtasney QC said both men were “punched, kicked and hit with whatever came to hand”, including a metal pole, a mop handle and a broom at their room above the Italian restaurant where they worked as waiters.

Villagers let off lanterns in memory of Joele Leotta the night before his funeral

Villagers let off lanterns in memory of Joele Leotta the night before his funeral

Earlier this month, the court heard how officers battled to revive Mr Leotta as he lay in a "pool of blood" following the attack.

Mr Galbiati, who grew up with Mr Leotta in Lecco, Italy, also told the court how his friend was "thrown in the air" during the attack.

Mr Leotta and Mr Galbiati had arrived in the UK six days before Mr Leotta’s death and started a 13-week trial period at the family-run restaurant.

Police forensics officers at the scene in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone

Police forensics officers at the scene in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone

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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