(published on Daily Mail)
Four charged with murder of Italian student, 19, who was kicked and punched to death 10 days after he arrived in the UK to learn English
An Italian waiter who described his new life in Britain as ‘perfect’ was beaten to death just days after arriving.
Joele Leotta, 20, who came to the UK to improve his English, was sharing a flat with a friend and had already found a job in an Italian restaurant. But on Sunday night a group of men are said to have kicked down the door to the flat before launching a savage attack on Joele and his friend.
Up to seven men are said to have kicked and punched the pair and neighbours heard loud shouting’ in a foreign language. Joele was taken to hospital but doctors were unable to save him. His friend, Alex Galbiati, was taken to another hospital and is believed to be recovering.
It is not known what caused the dispute between the Italian pair and the men, believed to be from Eastern Europe and thought to live in the flat on the floor above them.
Joele had travelled from the village of Nibionno, near Milan, on October 14 and found a job as a waiter at the Vesuvius Italian restaurant in Maidstone, Kent. He had hoped living in the UK would improve his English.
He and Mr Galbiati rented the middle-floor flat of the three-storey Victorian terrace building above the restaurant.
Days before he died, he wrote on Facebook that everything in the UK was ‘perfect’. ‘I’m in England. I’m trying to get settled,’ he wrote. ‘I’ve found work in an Italian restaurant with Neapolitan origins and now I’m learning to be a waiter 🙂 I’m getting to know Italians who work with me. Truly everything is perfect.’
Joele’s grief-stricken father Ivan and mother flew to London in the wake of the attack.
‘The only thing that is certain is that my son has been killed,’ Mr Leotta said yesterday. ‘He had only arrived a week ago. It’s impossible that he could have had time to put himself in a risky situation.
‘My son arrived Monday the 14th and the next day found work. I know the other boy as well and we tried to speak to him as soon as we arrived in England but he was in shock as well as incapacitated from the beating he had received.
‘We are all in such a state that we cannot even think. Now we want to understand what happened. My son wasn’t someone that got into fights, he had just arrived and hadn’t had time to come into conflict with anyone.’
Within hours of Joele’s death being announced a Facebook page was set up in his memory with the message ‘Stop the Violence’. His cousin Louise Paba, who lives in Salisbury, Wiltshire, said she was ‘in shock and saddened’. ‘It’s a tragic week for our family. My young cousin came over from Italy only a fortnight ago to work. He was fatally injured in an assault,’ she wrote on Facebook. ‘His parents are now in the country, and my brother and mum are supporting them whilst here.’
Detectives yesterday charged four men with Joele Leotta’s murder. Aleksandras Zuravliovas, 26, Tomas Gelezinis, 30, Saulius Tamoliunas, 23 and Linas Zidonis, 21, who all live in Maidstone, will appear before Medway magistrates this morning.
Last night police were also questioning a 30-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder.