Published: 06:00, 27 November 2020
| Updated: 08:31, 27 November 2020
Daniel Ezzedine was just 17 when he came to Canterbury from Germany on a post-exam trip last summer.
He arrived in the city a bright, young teenager with a promising future ahead of him, but returned home permanently brain-damaged, his hopes and dreams snatched from him by two teenage thugs.
The first, Jack Barron - aged just 15 at the time - swung a heavily-loaded bag into Daniel’s face as he tried to get to his feet following a melee in Rose Lane.
The blow left him unconscious on the ground, where he was kicked full-force in the head by 18-year-old Luke Fogarolli.
Daniel suffered an “earthquake” of skull fractures and was given just a 30% of surviving his catastrophic head injuries.
He beat the odds, but had to have part of his brain removed, leaving him now unable to talk.
His devastated family, who live in Mönchengladbach in west Germany, have this week shed light on the tragic effect of the attack.
They were unable to travel to the UK for the two-week trial at Canterbury Crown Court because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
But they have told KentOnline they are “happy” with the jury’s verdicts, which come almost a year-and-a-half after the attack.
“This is the first important step to serve justice for Daniel,” they said. “Now we are waiting for the sentence to be given in January.
“We hope that the punishment for the offenders will be justifiable for their brutal attack on Daniel, who narrowly survived the injuries he sustained. We have full confidence in the justice system that it will find the adequate sentence to serve justice for Daniel.”
In a letter to KentOnline, Daniel’s brother Soleiman told how the teen had been “an optimistic young man who dreamed of a bright future”.
“He was full of vitality and hope,” he said. “But his life, his future and his dreams all ended on the day of the attack.
"We hope that a miracle will happen and that he will get better..."
“He became unable to do anything for himself. His life and our lives became one long nightmare. Our lives were dominated by sadness, sorrow, and suffering.
“These criminals destroyed all our hopes, dreams and happiness. Seventeen years of education and care passed in vain.
“All that remains are memories and images that cause us more pain and deep sadness. We hope that a miracle will happen and that he will get better.
“We also hope that these criminals will not cause another tragedy.”
After a year-long stay in hospital, first in the UK and then in Germany, Daniel is now at home with his family.
But he suffers from a plethora of neurological problems, and is unable to speak or read.
“He only understands tiny bits of what is said to him, due to the fact his speech centre in the brain is badly damaged,” said his family.
“His right side is paralysed, but he can move his right arm and leg a bit. He also has lots of cognitive problems. These are just a few of his problems.
“At first, we didn’t like to talk about his problems. But now we do, because we know that most people in Canterbury are sad about what happened to Daniel and would like to know how his current state is.
“We thank you all for supporting us, feeling with us, and not forgetting Daniel.”
“We hope that after the conviction of the two offenders, Canterbury will be a safer city for locals, tourists and exchange students again...”
The Ezzedine family also thanked the judge, prosecuting barrister, jury and Kent Police for the “great job” they have done.
“We know that the prosecutor Simon Taylor did his utmost at the trial for Daniel’s right, and we would like to send a special thank you to him,” they said. “A special thank you also to the police officer Andrew Chapman, who kept close contact with us for many months.”
Horrified by the attack upon Daniel, people from across Canterbury and further afield rallied to raise more than £16,000 to help support his family, who flew over to the UK while he was in hospital.
“The donated money was very helpful for us, to pay for accommodation in London to be close to King’s College Hospital, where Daniel was,” they said.
“We won’t forget the help. We hope Daniel will gain more independence in the future.
“We hope that after the conviction of the two offenders, Canterbury will be a safer city for locals, tourists and exchange students again.”
The defendants will be sentenced in January.