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Man accused of killing Italian waiter Joele Leotta cries in front of jury at Maidstone Crown Court

By Anna Young

A man accused of murder was reduced to tears after he was accused of being a liar in front of a jury.

Aleksandras Zuravliovas, 27, broke down this week while giving evidence at Maidstone Crown Court, where he is on trial accused of killing Italian waiter Joele Leotta.

Mr Leotta, 20, was fatally wounded in a Maidstone bedsit he shared with childhood friend Alex Galbiati on Sunday, October 20, 2013.

Joele Leotta

Zuravliovas, of Beaumont Road, Maidstone, denies murder and wounding Mr Galbiati with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Three other defendants, Linas Zidonis, 21, of no fixed address, Saulius Tamoliunas, 24, of Union Street, Maidstone, and Tomas Gelezinis, 31, who lived on a floor above the Italians in Lower Stone Street, have also pleaded not guilty to both charges. All four are Lithuanian.

In a prepared statement heard by the court, Zuravliovas said: “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.”

But prosecutor Philippa McAtasney QC has picked holes in his version of events.

She played footage of a police interview in which the defendant told officers he tried to defend himself after he was struck outside the Italians’ room.

She said: “You remember beating him with hands and you remember slapping, and so in actual fact Mr Zuravliovas, it seems you had not been rendered unconscious at all.”

Zuravliovas confirmed he lied to police when he told them he wasn’t very drunk.

He admitted to the jury he drank two bottles of whiskey or brandy with Zidonis and Tamoliunas before heading to Lower Stone Street, where Gelezinis lived with his Lithuanian housemates.

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

He claims he suffered memory loss because of the amount of alcohol consumed. Miss McAtasney added: “If you cannot remember, then how can you remember you did not start the violence at the Italian boys’ door?

Zuravliovas replied: “I know myself. I’m not able to do those things… I cannot do anything cruel.”

When asked by Miss McAtasney why he was crying, Zuravliovas said: “Because I am telling the truth and you are saying that I am lying.”

The prosecution claims the defendants forced their way into the Italians’ room and beat them because they wrongly believed they were responsible for a noise complaint in the flats, which are above Vesuvius restaurant in Maidstone town centre.

The trial continues.

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