Published: 15:29, 20 November 2020
| Updated: 16:13, 20 November 2020
Two teenage thugs have today been found guilty of battering a German student subjected to Nazi salutes before a brutal gang attack left him permanently brain-damaged.
Daniel Ezzedine suffered an “earthquake” of skull fractures when he was struck in the face with a heavily-loaded bag and then kicked full-force in the head as he lay unconscious on the ground in Canterbury city centre.
He was given just a 30% of survival, but despite beating the odds had to have part of his brain removed and will never be the same again.
Jack Barron, who swung the bag at his defenceless victim, was this afternoon convicted of GBH with intent. He was just 15 at the time of the attack and can be named for the first time today.
Luke Fogarolli, 18, was found guilty of the same charge after a jury heard he aimed a running kick at the head of Mr Ezzedine, then 17.
The tragedy unfolded after Mr Ezzedine’s group, who had just finished their exams, unwittingly wandered into the Canterbury gang’s cross-hairs during a trip to KFC.
Taking umbrage with the foreigners, the gang began jeering at the Germans before a 15-year-old ramped up the friction by barging into one of them.
The stage had been set for an “evil” series of events that would leave Mr Ezzedine fighting for his life.
Two days later, both parties would clash in Canterbury city centre outside McDonald’s, where Mr Ezzedine, now 18, squared off with the gang.
Two of the gang members peeled off into Poundland’s tool aisle on a thieving expedition, stealing screwdrivers and a blade before returning to the confrontation outside.
As Mr Ezzedine’s entourage retreated, Barron, now 17, sent a Snapchat message to his hundreds of followers reading: “Beef in ct (Canterbury)whose backing it then asap.”
Minutes later, another gang member was caught performing a Nazi salute outside McDonald’s on CCTV.
Fogarolli and his co-defendant were seen stamping on bricks surrounding a nearby tree, trying to loosen them up for weapons.
“It seems that this was unsuccessful and so the group then appears to walk in the direction of Iron Bar Lane,” prosecutor Simon Taylor told the jury.
“It is outside the scope of CCTV so we don’t know what happens there but what we do know is that when Jack Barron reemerges he is looking at his bag.
“This is the likely location where the he filled his bag with bricks or some other heavy object in advance of the attack.
"He was also seen wearing gloves by this point, in June summer heat."
As the German boys remained in the the city centre the gang prowled east to Dane John Park, where one of them was again seen on CCTV continuing his Nazi salute.
Inside the gardens the gang chased one German student to Tesco Metro, where Mr Ezzedine’s group were buying water.
CCTV traced Barron arriving behind his friends in Gravel Walk, hood up, gloves on, clutching the bag primed with bricks or another heavy object.
A row broke out between Mr Ezzedine and the gang inside the Whitefriars Shopping Centre convenience store - security camera footage showed his friends trying to calm him.
The gang followed the German group into nearby Rose Lane where, by all counts, an unremarkable skirmish flared.
But the benign fight turned disastrous when Mr Ezzedine adopted a boxing stance, went up on his toes and tried to head-kick one gang member but was pulled to the ground.
When Mr Ezzedine tried getting to his feet 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 Mr Ezzedine laid down helplessly, Fogarolli took a running kick at his head before the group fled into Beer Cart Lane.
“It matters not whether Mr Fogarolli caused the injuries to Mr Ezzedine’s brain or whether that is all Mr Barron's work," the prosecutor said.
“The point is that they were together attacking a man that was defenceless on the floor. "Moreover, the action of kicking the man to the head demonstrates that Mr Fogarolli’s intention was to cause really serious bodily harm."
While Mr Ezzedine was unresponsive and being flown by air ambulance to King’s College Hospital, London, the gang continued their escape.
But state-of-the-art CCTV in Beer Cart Lane recorded the gang “whooping”, having “a good laugh about the attack,” mimicking the kick and shouting “bricks”, prosecutors said.
Police were alerted moments after the attack.
Patrols found Fogarolli in St Peter’s Place, where he made off before being apprehended, and Barron was arrested at his home in the early hours of the following day.
Both would go on to make no comment police interviews and deny wounding with intent. Fogarolli later admitted violent disorder, but Barron denied the charge.
He claimed he did not load the bag with bricks and said he acted in self-defence, telling the jury he feared for his life.
When prosecutors asked why he was recorded on CCTV soon after the attack without his satchel, he said: “I can’t remember.”
Fogarolli claimed he did not kick Mr Ezzedine in the head, insisting the blow struck his shoulder.
His solicitor, Matthew Pardoe, told the jury: "I would submit that Luke Fogarolli is lashing out (during the melee), the adrenaline is pumping around and he's just running about punching whoever he can.
"Daniel Ezzedine runs back and punches someone in the face, Luke Fogarolli goes and punches a German boy - it was obviously a stupid thing to do.
"We can see, as the people run, Luke Fogarolli runs over and he kicks him.
"But the notion that he kicked him in the head is false. Reprehensible though it was, it was not a kick to the head.
"It was a spiteful evil thing to do but it was not indicative, or intending, to cause really serious harm."
But a jury at Canterbury Crown Court today took little more than three hours to convict both defendants of GBH with intent, and Barron of violent disorder.
Both defendants looked straight ahead, emotionless, when the verdict was announced.
Judge Simon James told the duo to prepare for a period of detention.
Sentencing was adjourned until January 15 so probation can carry out reports, with both defendants bailed, but fitted with electronic tags.
Because of his age, a court order had previously prevented KentOnline from naming Jack Barron, but the judge lifted the restriction today following a challenge from our reporter.