Boy, 15, and two men are found guilty of killing gay man, 51
Boy, 15, and two men are found guilty of killing gay man, 51, who they called a ‘f*****’ as they beat him with metal pole and brick in alleyway
- Jerry Appicella, 51, was attacked by the young gang as he made his way home
- A woman helped him home after the assault and he locked the door behind him
- Mr Appicella died of his injuries hours later but wasn’t discovered for two weeks
- Shae Nicholson, 20, was found guilty of murder while Martell Fabian Brown, 24, and a 15-year-old boy who cannot be named were found guilty of manslaughter
A boy, 15, and two men have been found guilty of killing a gay man who they called a ‘f*****’ as they beat him with a metal pole and brick in an alleyway.
Jerry Appicella, 51, was attacked in Denaby Main, South Yorkshire as he made his way home from a local shop on December 3.
He was found dead at home by police on 15 December 2019, almost two weeks after the brutal assault.
Shae Nicholson, 20, was found guilty of murder while Martell Fabian Brown, 24, and a 15-year-old boy who cannot be named were found guilty of manslaughter at Sheffield Crown Court.
During the trial, the court heard how their motive for the attack was simply ‘because they wanted to’, but that various other factors, such as Mr Appicella’s sexuality, his appearance, or his alcohol dependency, possibly played a part.
Shae Nicholson, 20 (left), was found guilty of murder while Martell Fabian Brown, 24 (right), and a 15-year-old boy who cannot be named were found guilty of manslaughter at Sheffield Crown Court
The court heard Mr Appicella had become cut off from society due to addiction and visited the Go Local store to buy booze.
He was targeted by Nicholson, Fabian Brown and the boy – who was just 14 at the time.
Mr Appicella was brutally beaten by the trio before he was taken home by a woman who had been passing by and rushed to help him.
After getting home, Mr Appicella locked his door behind him.
He is believed to have died from his injuries just hours later – though his body lay undiscovered for two weeks.
Prosecutor John Harrison said while the true motive for the attack may never be known, the defendants in the case regularly referred to Mr Appicella as a ‘f****t’ and a ‘nonce’.
Mr Harrison said: ‘They beat him, kicked him, stamped on him and struck him with a weapon. He was knocked to the floor and the attack continued.
‘When they were finished Mr Appicella was helped home by a lady who witnessed the attack.
‘He died at his home address from the trauma sustained in that attack. His body wasn’t discovered until some 12 days later.
‘Why did these young men attack him and kill him? It’s not easy to say. Perhaps because he was gay, or a ‘f****t’ or a ‘nonce’ as they referred to him.
‘The exact reason may or may not become clear. All that can be said with certainty is they carried out their attack because they wanted to.’
Jerry Apicella, 51, was discovered dead inside his home (above) last December, two weeks after he was attacked
Mr Apicella was beaten up with a brick and metal pole in the alleyway (above) on December 3. Officers believe he then walked to his home and later died
Mr Harrison said Mr Appicella had changed his name when he was a young man and went on to study at drama school before becoming addicted to alcohol.
By 2019 he was living an ‘isolated’ life in his bungalow but he still had the support of family and friends.
They became concerned when they hadn’t heard from him since he spoke to his mother in America on December 3.
By December 15, police officers became so concerned they entered his home, only to find him dead on his bed.
His face was covered in dried blood and it had become apparent he had been attacked. It was later revealed he had suffered a bleed on the brain and lapsed into a coma.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was severe head trauma, sustained during the attack.
Mr Harrison said that, in short, Mr Appicella had been kicked and punched to death.
Mr Harrison said: ‘CCTV shows Mr Appicella going to the store and coming into conflict with some of the defendants in the store and just outside.
‘All of them jointly attack him as he walked down an alleyway. It shows a brutal attack by children and young adults on an obviously vulnerable and helpless victim. There is no obvious motive for the attack.
‘It is a sad and disappointing feature that very few witnesses have been willing to come forward and assist the police.’
The court heard Mr Appicella had become cut off from society due to addiction and visited the Go Local store to buy booze before the attack
Jurors were shown a ‘tapestry’ of CCTV that police had pieced together having recovered hours of footage from various sources.
The footage showed the defendants in the shop.
Mr Harrison described Nicholson as being ‘off his head’ and said his demeanour was ‘aggressive, belligerent and hyper’.
The 15-year-old defendant was spotted on the CCTV carrying a yellow pole.
A fourth defendant, Kian Gerrard, 20, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Palmer said: ‘On the evening of the attack, this group of young men had been hanging around the Go Local store in Denaby Main, generally being rowdy, creating a hostile atmosphere for shoppers.
‘One of those people was Jerry Appicella; whilst he lived a mainly solitary life, he was a familiar face in the community, visiting the shop daily. On that particular evening, Mr Appicella came to the attention of these four men, who taunted and mocked him while he was in the shop.
‘The four waited outside the shop and Mr Appicella began to make his way home down a nearby alleyway. What he didn’t know, was that the group had come up with a plan to ambush him. CCTV footage clearly shows Nicholson, crouched down, lying in wait and the others stalking him from behind.
‘The attack was brutal; Nicholson used a brick to attack him and his 15-year-old attacker landed blows with a metal pole. A woman who had previously offered to walk Mr Appicella home, witnessed the final throes of the attack, and rushed to his side as the group fled the scene.’
DCI Palmer continued: ‘Mr Appicella’s family tried to contact him over the following week and then contacted police, concerned for his welfare. Officers forced entry to his home on 15 December and a murder investigation was quickly launched.
‘Central to the investigation has been detailed examination of CCTV footage, which provided us with a clear timeline of events and captured the attack itself.
‘Nicholson was also caught on CCTV bragging about the attack in the Go Local store and using homophobic slurs to describe his victim.’
All four men were identified and arrested between 18 and 24 December and were later charged.
The two men and 15 year-old boy will be sentenced in May 2021.
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