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Joele Leotta's mother said son was 'relaxed' when she spoke him about an hour before he was fatally wounded in a Maidstone bedsit

By Anna Young

Italian water Joele Leotta spoke to his mother just over an hour before he was fatally injured in an “appalling and sickening group attack”, a jury was told.

Patrizia Leotta said her oldest son was relaxed when they talked on the phone after he finished work at Vesuvius restaurant, in Lower Stone Street, Maidstone, at around 10pm on Sunday, October 20, last year.

But by 11.45pm, the 20-year-old was in cardiac arrest.

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

Mr Leotta had travelled to the UK six days before the fatal incident, from his home in the Lecco province of Italy, with childhood friend Alex Galbiati.

This week, Mrs Leotta’s statement was included in the prosecution’s closing statement at Maidstone Crown Court, where four Lithuanians are on trial for her son’s murder and wounding Mrs Galbiati, also 20, with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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, deny the charges.

In Mrs Leotta’s evidence, read out by Philippa McAtasney QC, she said: “When I spoke him, Joele was relaxed, normal for him for that matter. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.”

Joele Leotta's parents Ivan and Patrizia.

Mr Leotta said he had planned to spend the evening watching a film with Mr Galbiati.

The prosecution claims the four defendants forced their way into the Italians’ room above Vesuvius at about 11.15pm and assaulted the two boys because the wrongly assumed they had complained to the landlord about loud noise from the top floor - where Gelezinis lived.

Miss McAtasney said the Lithuanians “The two Italian boys did absolutely nothing to provoke such hideous, mindless violence..these defendants behaved like a pack of animals.”

Zuravliovas has told jurors he remembers very little from the night. Tamoliunas and Zidonis said they acted in self-defence and Gelezinis claims he tried to stop the violence.

A policeman stands outside the flat above Vesuvius Italian restaurant

Miss McAtasney said: “None of the defendants’ accounts can bear any analysis. They certainly don’t dove tail together. We say that is because it is all fabrication by them.”

She added: “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 suggests Gelezinis waited nearby while Zuravliovas, Tamoliunas and Zidonis returned to the bedsit minutes after attacking the two boys and continued the assault.

The 31-year-old admitted to police he was standing less than 50 yards away, outside Gala Bingo, when the emergency services arrived. He stayed at a friend’s house and attended Maidstone police station the next day.

Joele Leotta was a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Maidstone

Miss McAtasney said: “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.”

She added: “The intention was clear from the very beginning - it was to kill or to cause at least serious harm.”

Alex Galbiati, a childhood friend of Joele Leotta, was wounded in the attack

The jury is expected to retire on Friday after 11 weeks of listening to evidence.

Mr Leotta’s parents are due to return to England to hear the verdict.

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