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Broadstairs boxer Lee Cekic jailed for leaving sister's ex-boyfriend Joe Bath for dead in vicious attack

Victim Joe Bath's mother didn't recognise him after he was left for dead in a vicious attack
Victim Joe Bath's mother didn't recognise him after he was left for dead in a vicious attack

This is the battered and bloodied face of Joe Bath – beaten to a pulp by the brother of his former lover.

The 26-year-old was repeatedly kicked and punched with a fist with a key in it over an argument in a nightclub.

Mr Bath was twice knocked unconscious and left for dead with a fractured skull and found in a such a state even his mother did not recognise him.

The "savage and vicious" attack led to four members of the same family being jailed at Canterbury Crown Court.

Mr Bath's former lover – and mother of his three-year-old child – Jade Cekic was jailed for 21 months after admitting perverting the course of justice by staging a cover-up after the attack.

Lee Cekic left victim Joe Bath for dead in a vicious attack
Lee Cekic left victim Joe Bath for dead in a vicious attack

The court heard it was Jade who had headbutted her ex-partner in the Kabuki Nightclub, in Margate, last August and then telephoned brother Lee to drive to the club.

Accomplished boxer Lee, 24, arrived in a black Ford Focus in the early hours and persuaded Mr Bath to get inside – before taking him on a terror ride.

After the attack, the siblings' parents Negovan and Paula Cekic took part in the cover-up – after Lee had torched the car in Herne Bay seafront.

Lee, of George Hill Road, Broadstairs, was given a 15-year extended sentence after admitting causing grievous bodily harm with intent and false imprisonment.

Jade, 22, of Vicarage Place, Margate, sat in the dock as the judge told her and that her parents publican Paula, 43, and 52-year-old Negovan, both of Hastings Avenue, Margate, they had "closed ranks" in an attempt to cover up the crime.

"When I first saw my son in hospital I didn't recognise him. I almost walked past him. I thought he was going to die..." - Deborah Bath

They also admitted perverting the course of justice and were jailed for 21 months.

After the hearing, Mr Bath's mother Deborah Bath said: "When I first saw my son in hospital I didn't recognise him. I almost walked past him. I thought he was going to die."

She said that since the attack, Mr Bath had become "very quiet".

Prosecutor Dominic Connolly said: "This incident all centres around the former relationship between Joe Bath and Jade Cekic who were in a relationship which ended two years ago but have a daughter."

In August, Mr Bath was out with a group of friends in the nightclub when he "bumped" into Jade.

Mr Connolly added: "There was an argument in which Mr Bath claims he was headbutted and punched by her. As a resulted she was ejected from the club.

"Some five to 10 minutes later, Mr Bath was told that Lee was outside and wished to speak to him. He was then asked to follow the car down to an area where there was no CCTV.

"He did so and then got into the car voluntarily, which was then driven out of Margate."

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

During the journey, Mr Bath claimed he became frightened and tried to kick his way out of the moving vehicle – but failed.

"He was then lunged at by Lee and was hit by something sharp – a key," added Mr Connolly. "He was then forced out of the car and subjected to a beating, which included punching and kicking to the head, face and back.

"He lost consciousness. And when he was examined at hospital he was unable to open his eyes because they were so swollen and had dried blood covering his face and scalp. A scan later revealed a fracture to his skull."

Mr Bath was then dumped at the top of a cliff outside Broadstairs' Captain Digby pub, but despite his horrific injuries managed to stagger to a nearby house to ask for help.

The prosecutor said the Cekic family then set about covering up the attack. Lee torched the car in Herne Bay and his father then came to drive him away in his Mercedes. They were stopped by police on the A28 in Birchington, with Lee still smelling of petrol.

Jade lied to police about what she had been wearing at the club and her mother deleted incriminating telephone texts and lied about knowing where her husband had gone.

Beaten Joe Bath was dumped near the Captain Digby pub in Broadstairs
Beaten Joe Bath was dumped near the Captain Digby pub in Broadstairs

But detectives, who taped prison conversations, heard Lee admit to his mother: "They got me bang to rights on everything."

Senior officers believe Lee thought he had killed Mr Bath and then set about a campaign to cover his tracks.

In another chat with his sister, he said: "He had to go at the end of the day didn't he? If I didn't do it then no one else would, would they?"

And he said to a friend: "I lost it. I just saw red and lost it. Just went mad, mate and lost the plot."

DCI Paul Fotheringham, from theKent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate
DCI Paul Fotheringham, from theKent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate

Judge Adele Williams, who sentenced Lee to a 10-year custodial sentence with five more years on licence, said he would only be released when the authorities thought it safe from him to return to society.

She said he had beaten his victim "to a pulp" with a car key found by police, "encrusted with Mr Bath's blood".

The judge also commended police officers for their "excellent" work on the case.

DCI Paul Fotheringham, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "There is no doubt in my mind that Lee Cekic intended to seriously hurt Mr Bath and subjected him to a terrifying and horrific ordeal. It was a sickening and violent attack which left the victim with horrendous injuries and he will be scarred for life.

"The offender's parents and his sister then assisted Lee in attempting to cover up this crime giving false statements to the police and trying to shift the blame elsewhere.

"Mr Bath has shown great courage and bravery by standing up to his attacker in providing evidence and I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the officers who carried out thorough and painstaking investigations and uncovered the full extent of the assault despite attempts to cover it up."

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