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Daniel Ezzedine attack: Canterbury teenagers guilty of violent disorder spared jail after assault on German student

Six teenagers have been spared prison after admitting their involvement in violent scenes which led to a 17-year-old being left with life-changing brain damage.

Daniel Ezzedine was attacked in Canterbury city centre after a mass brawl broke out with local youngsters during a post-exam trip.

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

The brutal assault left the German student "100% disabled" and needing round-the-clock care from his family.

Two teenage thugs are already behind bars for their part in the attack - which saw Daniel spend more than a year in hospital after being beaten with a bag of bricks and kicked full force in the head.

Jack Barron, who swung the bag at his defenceless victim, was convicted of GBH with intent.

Luke Fogarolli, 18, was found guilty of the same charge after a jury heard he aimed a running kick at Daniel's head.

Now, six further teens have been sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court over the part they played in that fateful day.

Charlie Golding at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Charlie Golding at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Belcher Barron, 19, of Longbury Drive in Orpington; 18-year-old Michael Murray of St Gregory's Road, Canterbury; 18-year-old Nancie Lee, also of St Gregory's Road; and 17-year-old Charlie Golding from Canterbury each pleaded guilty to violent disorder, as did a Birchington 17-year-old and a Canterbury 16-year-old who cannot legally be named due to their age.

Charlie Golding is below the age of 18, but can be named for the first time today following a successful application by KentOnline's sister paper, the Kentish Gazette, for his anonymity to be waived.

Judge Simon James told the six teens how they had all played their part in the "racially motivated" and "premeditated gang attack".

The tragedy unfolded after Daniel's group, who were enjoying a trip to England after their exams, unwittingly wandered into the Canterbury gang’s cross-hairs during a trip to KFC on June 4, 2019.

Taking umbrage with the foreigners, the gang began jeering at the Germans.

Belcher Barron at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Belcher Barron at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin

The stage had been set for an “evil” series of events that would leave Daniel fighting for his life in hospital.

Two days later, both parties clashed in Canterbury city centre outside McDonald’s, where Daniel squared off with the gang.

CCTV footage played before the court on Friday showed the events as they unfolded.

It showed a number of the Canterbury teens congregating outside McDonald's, where they argued with Daniel's group.

Nancie Lee was seen adopting a "boxing stance" while speaking to Daniel.

Two of the gang members peeled off into Poundland’s tool aisle on a thieving expedition.

"He left not with the life-enhancing experiences he had hoped for, but with life-limiting brain injury from which he is unlikely ever to recover..."

There, Golding stole a Stanley knife before returning to the confrontation outside, where he made a "slashing motion".

Jack Barron and Luke Fogarolli then headed to Iron Bar Lane, along with the youngest defendant, who was just 14 at the time, who returned to the group making "hand motions". It is believed this was the point at which a bag was filled with bricks.

As Daniel's entourage retreated, Jack Barron sent a Snapchat message to his hundreds of followers reading: “Beef in ct (Canterbury) whose backing it then asap.”

His younger brother, Belcher Barron, then 17, responded to this request for back-up by heading to the city centre.

The altercation came to a head when the two groups clashed inside Tesco in Whitefriars, before moving outside into Rose Lane, where a large brawl broke out in the crowded shopping area.

Nancie Lee leaving Canterbury Crown Court yesterday
Nancie Lee leaving Canterbury Crown Court yesterday

Judge James described the six teens as "revelling" in the fracas.

Belcher Barron was seen fighting with Daniel before the German teen fell to the floor after trying to kick Barron.

When Daniel tried getting to his feet, Jack Barron swung his bag with such force into his right cheekbone it forced his head to hit his left shoulder.

A security guard described the haunting “horrific crunching sound” of the strike.

As Daniel laid down helplessly, Fogarolli took a running kick at his head before the group fled into Beer Cart Lane.

Lee could be seen clapping in an apparent bid to encourage others to join the melee, before herself tussling with a security guard who tried to diffuse the situation.

The group then ran from the scene.

CCTV showed them swaggering away down Water Lane in apparent excitement, with one defendant making a kicking motion.

Golding was seen throwing an item into the River Stour, from which a knife was later recovered.

Judge James described the teens' actions as "immature and stupid".

Michael Murray at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Michael Murray at Canterbury Crown Court. Picture: Barry Goodwin

"International visitors have been welcome to Canterbury for hundreds of years," he said.

"[Daniel] came to England to experience a different culture, and to Canterbury in particular to experience our city's rich history.

"He left not with the life-enhancing experiences he had hoped for, but with life-limiting brain injury from which he is unlikely ever to recover.

"You were all part of a group...who apparently took umbrage to the presence of foreign visitors in what you saw as your town.

"Your group sought confrontation and tried to provoke a physical fight, which some of you prepared for by arming yourselves.

"I reject any suggestion that you were provoked.

"You were all involved in persistent and sustained unlawful violence."

The judge told how racial motivation was an aggravating factor in the attack, but added that he must take into account the defendants' young ages at the time, their eventual guilty pleas, and the fact they have each spent time under stringent bail conditions.

Judge Simon James
Judge Simon James

The six teens were sentenced on Monday, more than two years to the day since the attack.

Belcher Barron, now 19 and aged 17 at the time of the attack, was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and 60 days of rehabilitation.

In mitigation, Patrick Maggs, defending, told how Barron is of "good character" - that he "was not an instigator" in the violence and "had no knowledge of any weapon being present".

He added that Barron is "haunted by the events of that day", which have "derailed" his plans to join the Army.

Judge James said Barron had come to the scene "intent on both using and threatening physical violence...and on confronting the group of German students".

But citing "pressures on the prison system" and Barron's lack of previous convictions, the judge said he had "just about been persuaded" that Barron did not require an immediate prison sentence.

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

"This is a last and final chance," he said, adding he will "have no choice" but to send him to prison if he reoffends.

Defending Michael Murray, James Burke told how the 18-year-old has lived with his grandparents for most of his life due to his parents' substance misuse issues, which has had a detrimental impact on his education.

He said Murray shows "empathy and remorse", and is now in a stable relationship and expecting to become a father.

Judge James said Murray's actions formed "part of a concerning pattern of violent offending" by the teen, who has committed further serious offences involving a knife and violence, but acknowledged he has not committed a serious offence since August last year.

He said: "You need to grow up and you need to be a good father to your future child."

Murray was sentenced to 15 months in a young offenders' institute, suspended for two years, along with 200 hours of unpaid work and 30 rehab days - a sentence Judge James described as "a last and final chance to mend and change your ways",

Defending Nancie Lee, Philip Rowley described the teen as "more of a follower than a leader" in the incident, adding that she "does not in any way seek to avoid responsibility for her conduct".

Mr Rowley described the events of June 6 as "at odds with [Lee's] true character" and says she feels "significant remorse and shame".

He also cited challenges in Lee's family, growing up.

Judge James acknowledged the fact she has no previous convictions, before or since the incident, and said he feels the fact she was in a relationship with Fogarolli at the time is likely to have played a part in her involvement.

He also noted the fact she has found a job and is "trying to make something of [her] life".

He described Lee as being "involved in encouraging others in using unlawful violence".

"Towards the end you were also involved physically with the security guards who were just trying to do their job," he added.

"Their appalling behaviour on the day contributed to a level of violence that simply cannot be tolerated..."

Lee was sentenced to a two-year community order with supervision, with 30 days of rehab and 150 hours of unpaid work.

"If you commit further offences or do not comply with these orders, you will be going to prison or youth custody," added Judge James.

Golding's defence barrister, Kieran Brand, said: "It's suggested that Mr Golding's theft of the knife, and subsequent possession of it and then the swishing movement you see in the video is indicative of plans to use it.

"The knife wasn't used at any point during the incident, nor was it at any point brandished.

"He didn't use any violence at any point."

Mr Brand acknowledged that Golding's actions are aggravated by his record, which includes a previous conviction of possession of a knife, and the fact he has not remained out of trouble since.

But he said Golding has numerous "difficulties and vulnerabilities", and low emotional function for his age.

Mr Brand described him as "a young man who lacks consequential thinking...a young man with significant difficulties" who "would be vulnerable in a custody setting".

Addressing Golding, Judge James said: "This is not the first time you have committed a racially motivated offence. You played a prominent part in a serious incident of public disorder."

He added that Golding's difficulties and mental ill health "can no longer be relied upon now you are almost an adult".

"There are no more excuses," he said.

Golding was given a two-year youth rehabilitation order (YRO) with intensive supervision and surveillance.

He was also sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work, while he will be tagged and subject to a 9pm to 6am curfew until his 18th birthday on August 30. He will also be banned from within the city walls until that date.

A 17-year-old from Birchington was given a two-year YRO with an enhanced level of intervention.

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

Judge James told him: "It is clear you were revelling in violence perpetrated by others".

But the judge acknowledged the teen's involvement was more “peripheral” than others’, while this was his first and only conviction, and the boy's family have attested to the fact he has changed positively in the last two years.

"You are different to the shirtless yob that is seen running around in that CCTV footage," he said.

"You have shown insight and remorse. This is a last and final chance."

Another boy, who was just 14 at the time of the incident and is now 16, was given a two-year YRO with a standard level of supervision.

Judge James said: "You were intent on seeking confrontation, albeit not [yourself] using physical violence".

He accepted that the boy's intellect is below that typical for his age, and that he has since been subject to stringent bail conditions "during which you have not reoffended but have tried to get your life back on track".

"I have given you a chance," said the judge.

"Many right-minded individuals may, hearing about this, feel [you should be sent to prison]. I’ve decided not to do that. Do not make me regret that decision.

"Do not come back to court, because if you do I may have to impose a custodial sentence upon you. There will be no ifs and buts next time."

Responding to the sentencing, senior investigating officer Det Insp Ross Gurden of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Whilst none of those sentenced this week were directly responsible for the attack that led to the victim suffering such tragic and long-lasting injuries, it is safe to say that their appalling behaviour on the day contributed to a level of violence that simply cannot be tolerated.

"They taunted and goaded a group of students visiting the city and sought confrontation with them over an extended period of time.

"Our thoughts remain with the victim and his family. I hope these latest court results, combined with the previous lengthy prison sentences that were imposed, have provided them with some comfort.

"We recognise that this offence also had an impact on the wider community in Canterbury, who responded by showing support to the victim, and I hope these further sentences also give them a sense of closure on the events of that day."

Three teens were sentenced in January over their involvement in the events of June 6, 2019.

Jack Barron, who swung a bag of bricks at defenceless Daniel, was convicted of GBH with intent. He was just 15 at the time of the attack, and was in January sentenced to six years in a young offenders' institute (YOI).

Luke Fogarolli, 18, was found guilty of the same charge after a jury heard he aimed a running kick at Daniel's head. In January, he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in a YOI, plus an extra year for separate drug-dealing and weapon offences.

George Potter, aged 19, of Eaton Place in Margate admitted violent disorder, and was in January sentenced to 18 months in YOI, suspended for two years, plus 150 hours unpaid work.

A 10th and final defendant, 19-year-old Leon Thurston, from Canterbury, is expected to appear in court later this summer, having also been charged in connection with the events of that day.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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