Two men and a 15-year-old boy have been found guilty of beating a gay man to death with a brick and a metal pole in a horrifying “feral attack”.
Jerry Appicella, 51, was ambushed by the group as he made his way home from his local shop in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on 3 December 2019. He was found dead in his apartment 12 days later from injuries sustained in the devastating attack.
On Thursday (25 March) Shae Nicholson, 20, was found guilty of his murder. Martell Fabian Brown, 24, and a 15-year-old – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were found guilty of manslaughter, while a fourth man was found not guilty.
The men attacked Jerry Appicella simply “because they wanted to”, prosecutors said, adding that his sexuality, appearance or alcohol dependency may also have played a part.
“The four waited outside the shop and Mr Appicella began to make his way home down a nearby alleyway,” said detective chief inspector Simon Palmer.
“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.”
Jerry Appicella was taken home by the woman and locked his door behind him. He is believed to have died from his injuries just hours later, with a post mortem blaming a bleed to the brain which caused him to fall into a coma.
The man was a reclusive alcoholic who lived a “mainly solitary life” in a small bungalow, but was a familiar face in the community as he visited the shop daily to buy alcohol. His mother, who lives in America, called police when she didn’t hear from him for a number of days.
Detectives quickly discovered shocking CCTV footage of the attack which proved central to the investigation. Nicholson was also caught on CCTV bragging about the attack and using homophobic slurs to describe his victim.
While a hate crime motive wasn’t determined, prosecutors noted that the group often referred to the victim as a “f****t” and a “nonce”.
Nicholson, Brown and the teenager will all be sentenced in May 2021.