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7 July 2014, 17:30
Three men are awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of murdering an Italian man in Maidstone.
Alexandras Zuravliovas, Linas Zidonas and Saulius Tamoliunas were found guilty of murder and grievous bodily harm following an 11 week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
20-year-old, Joele Leotta, and his childhood friend, Alex Galbiati, had finished work at an Italian restaurant on the evening of Sunday 20th October and had returned to their room, which was in the building above on Lower Stone Street.
The pair had heard noise coming from a room above them, followed by someone attempting to open their front door. Galbiati called out to whoever it was to go away, but their locked door was kicked in.
Leotta and Galbiati were then attacked by a group of men, which left Galbiati with grievous bodily harm injuries, and Leotta with injuries that he later died from.
26-year-old Aleandras Zuravliovas, 21-year-old Linas Zidonis, 24-year-old Saluius Tamoliunas and 31-year-old Tomas Gelezinis were all charged with the murder of Joele Leotta and inflicting GBH on Alex Galbiati. Gelezinis was acquitted by a jury of both counts. The remaining six men were released without any charges and some later gave evidence at the trial.
In a statement released following the verdicts, Joele Leotta’s family said: 'Nobody can see the pain we carry inside ourselves. It makes us unable to breathe, it makes us powerless, it leaves us empty and lonely. Why did this happen? He did not deserve something so ugly to happen to him. Joele will no longer be able to taste or smell, see, feel pain or feel joy and live his life. We will never be able to accept this.
‘Joele was a kind, loving, respectful and determined boy. He would never sow hatred, violence or cowardice. The memory of Joele is our strength. The memory of his voice with the words - Everything is cool, see you tomorrow'.
The men are due to be sentenced on Tuesday 8 July.