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Family of Canterbury gang attack victim Daniel Ezzedine tell of assault's devastating impact

The family of a teenager left severely brain-damaged after a brutal gang attack have told of the heartbreaking impact on his and their lives.

German student Daniel Ezzedine is now "100% disabled" - unable to speak or read and needing 24/7 care from his family - following the devastating assault in Canterbury two years ago.

Daniel Ezzedine Pic: Bassam Ezzedine / Facebook
Daniel Ezzedine Pic: Bassam Ezzedine / Facebook

His parents are riddled with debt and depression as they struggle to care for him, and his living conditions are such that he has to be wheeled around on an office chair, while someone always sleeps next to him on his bedroom floor.

It's a life that is a world away from that of the happy 17-year-old who travelled to the city on a post-exam trip in 2019, only to be beaten in an "unprovoked" and "racially motivated" attack carried out by a gang of local teens.

Nine youths have so far been convicted in connection with the incident, including six who were sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to violent disorder.

On Friday, Canterbury Crown Court heard emotional testimony from one of Daniel's older brothers - who detailed the impact the attack has had upon his family, who now provide Daniel with round-the-clock care in their second-storey flat in Mönchengladbach, Germany.

While deeply grateful that the teen battled the odds by surviving his traumatic injuries, the family struggles with knock-on effects such as depression and debt.

Four of the six teens sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday: (clockwise from top left) Nancie Lee, Belcher Barron, Charlie Golding, Michael Murray
Four of the six teens sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Monday: (clockwise from top left) Nancie Lee, Belcher Barron, Charlie Golding, Michael Murray

In a statement read by prosecutor Simon Taylor, Daniel's brother told how the family is forced to push Daniel around on an office chair as there is no space in their apartment for a wheelchair.

He described his little brother as having "the most kind nature", and recalled him once being "the one that makes us all laugh, telling jokes and stories".

The youngest of five brothers, Daniel previously spent more time at home than his siblings, and would frequently help his mother in the kitchen and his father at work.

He had eventually hoped to go to university to study economics, and was interested in engineering. He had also been keen to get his driving licence.

After finishing school in the summer of 2019, he was set to embark upon a trip to England, where he was to stay with a host family.

Excited to try a full English breakfast after seeing them on TV, he had carefully made notes of how to ask for one in English.

He had expressed some nervousness about the expedition, but had been reassured by his brothers.

"It was this trip that was to change his, and all our family's lives forever," said Daniel's brother.

Daniel was seriously injured in Canterbury city centre on June 6, 2019, in an attack that saw him beaten with a bag of bricks and kicked full force in the head.

He was airlifted to King's College Hospital in London, where he had to have part of his brain removed and specialists gave him just a 30% chance of survival.

Daniel's family rushed from Germany to be with him, and spent every day by his bedside.

More than a year later, he was eventually allowed home.

Daniel's brother said: "He now needs to be looked after 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"He can do hardly anything for himself. We look after him at home with very little help."

Daniel Ezzedine, left, pictured with his brother Bassam prior to the attack
Daniel Ezzedine, left, pictured with his brother Bassam prior to the attack

The family's second-floor apartment has no lift, and is not adapted to Daniel's needs.

Two people must always be home to help him get into bed and use the bathroom, while it is a "struggle" to move him outside and into the fresh air.

"Daniel needs help to eat and drink and can't even be left to sleep in his room alone," said his brother, who told how he or his mother typically sleep on Daniel's bedroom floor.

While Daniel can watch TV and play child's electronic games, he cannot read. Doctors say his quality of life is likely to be "very low", and that there is little chance of his condition improving.

"He doesn't understand much of what we tell him," said his brother.

"We have to use pictures and hand signals to let him know what we mean.

"He often gets sad and depressed and frustrated when he tries to speak.

"Doctors have told us not to talk about [the accident] as it may push him into further depression."

Emergency services at the scene on June 6, 2019
Emergency services at the scene on June 6, 2019

He added that looking at old photos from before his attack appears to make Daniel sad.

Daniel's injuries have had a huge impact on his close, loving family.

"My mother has been the hardest hit, and now suffers from severe depression," said Daniel's brother.

"She was a very optimistic woman. She now spends her whole life caring for Daniel.

"She can't believe the healthy, cheerful boy who brought joy to our family is now sad and depressed and can't do anything for himself.

"My father is also depressed as he's worried about Daniel and the debts we've had to take on to look after him."

Daniel's brother expressed gratitude to the people of Canterbury, who raised more than £16,000 to help support his family in the aftermath of the attack, to help pay for accommodation and living costs while they stayed near Daniel's London hospital.

But he explained the family still had to borrow money for food and flights home, and are now left with debt.

Daniel Ezzedine was the victim of the gang attack in Canterbury
Daniel Ezzedine was the victim of the gang attack in Canterbury

"I was at university but had to take a break from my studies," he continued. "I'm not ready to return.

"We all try to stay strong for Daniel and my parents, but it is not easy.

"It has had a devastating effect on his life and those of his family.

"Daniel had been really looking forward to his trip to Canterbury. He had his whole life in front of him. His life has been destroyed."

He added that his family hopes the teens involved in the devastating events of 2019 "realise the severe consequences of their actions".

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