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Home Maidstone News Article
A jury has retired to consider verdicts in the long-running trial of four Lithuanian men accused of murdering a young Italian waiter.
Joele Leotta, 20, died after an “appalling and sickening group attack” at his bedsit over Vesuvius restaurant, where he worked, in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone, on the evening of Sunday, October 20, last year.
He had arrived in the UK six days before from his home in the Lecco province of Italy with childhood friend Alex Galbiati.
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, denied murdering Mr Leotta and wounding Mr Galbiati, 20, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The prosecution alleged the four men forced their way into the Italians’ room at about 11.15pm and attacked them because they wrongly assumed they had complained to the landlord about loud noise from the top floor, where Gelezinis lived.
Prosecutor Philippa McAtasney QC told the jury in her closing speech: “The two Italian boys did absolutely nothing to provoke such hideous, mindless violence. These defendants behaved like a pack of animals.”
Zuravliovas claimed he remembered very little from the night. Tamoliunas and Zidonis claimed they acted in self-defence and Gelezinis said he tried to stop the violence.
But Miss McAtasney said: “None of the defendants’ accounts can bear any analysis. They certainly don’t dovetail together. We say that is because it is all fabrication by them.
“The defendants, you may think, have each gone into the witness box and lied through their teeth to you in an attempt to pull the wool over your eyes to save their own sorry skins.”
The prosecution suggested Gelezinis waited nearby while Zuravliovas, Tamoliunas and Zidonis returned to the bedsit minutes after attacking the two boys and continued the assault.
Miss McAtasney added: “It does not matter who cast which blow or blows upon which Italian.
"If you are sure that they were all acting together encouraging each other by actions or presence or words, then they are all equally guilty for the consequences.
“The intention was clear from the very beginning - it was to kill or to cause at least serious harm.”
The trial has lasted 11 weeks. Mr Leotta’s parents are due to return to England for the verdict.
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