A 15-year-old boy and two men have been found guilty of murdering a gay man they called an ‘f *****’ while beating him with a metal pole and brick in an alley.
Jerry Appicella, 51, was attacked in Denaby Main, South Yorkshire when he went home from a local store on December 3.
He was found dead at home by police on December 15, 2019, almost two weeks after the brutal attack.
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 learned that their motive for the attack was simply “because they wanted to,” but that various other factors, such as Mr. Appicella’s sexuality, appearance or alcohol addiction, may have played a role.
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 that Mr. Appicella had been cut off from society by addiction and visited the Go Local store to purchase booze.
He was the target of Nicholson, Fabian Brown and the boy – who was only 14 at the time.
Appicella was brutally beaten by the trio before being taken home by a woman who came by and rushed to help him.
When he got home, Mr. Appicella locked his door behind him.
He is believed to have died of his injuries a few hours later – although his body lay undiscovered for two weeks.
Prosecutor John Harrison said that while the true motive for the attack may never be known, defendants in the case regularly referred to Mr. Appicella as an “f **** t” and a “nonce.”
Mr. Harrison said, “They hit him, kicked him, punched him, and hit him with a weapon. He was knocked to the ground and the attack continued.
When they were done, Mr. Appicella was helped home by a lady who witnessed the attack.
He died at his home address from the trauma he suffered during that attack. His body was not discovered until 12 days later.
‘Why did these young men attack and kill him? It is not easy to say. Maybe because he was gay, or an ‘f **** t’ or a ‘nonce’ as they called him.
The exact reason may or may not become clear. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that they carried out their attack because they wanted to. ‘
Jerry Apicella, 51, was found dead in his home (above) last December, two weeks after he was attacked
Mr. Apicella was beaten up in the alley (top) on December 3 with a stone and metal pole. Officers think he then walked to his house and later died.
Mr. Harrison said Mr. Appicella changed his name when he was a young man and entered drama school before becoming addicted to alcohol.
In 2019 he lived an ‘isolated’ life in his bungalow, but he still had the support of family and friends.
They were concerned that they had not heard from him since he spoke to his mother in America on December 3.
On December 15, police officers became so concerned that they entered his home and found him dead on his bed.
His face was covered with dried blood and it had become clear that he had been attacked. It was later revealed that he had suffered a brain haemorrhage and fell into a coma.
A post-mortem investigation found the cause of death to be serious head trauma sustained during the attack.
Mr. Harrison said that, in short, Mr. Appicella had been kicked to death and beaten.
Mr. Harrison said: “CCTV shows that Mr. Appicella goes to the store and comes into conflict with some defendants in the store and outside.
They all attack him together as he walked down an alley. It depicts a brutal attack by children and young adults on an obviously vulnerable and helpless victim. There is no clear motive for the attack.
“It is a sad and disappointing quality that very few witnesses have been willing to come forward to assist the police.”
The court heard that Mr. Appicella had been cut off from society by addiction and visited the Go Local store to purchase booze for the attack.
Jurors were shown a CCTV ‘tapestry’ that the police had assembled after collecting hours of footage from various sources.
The images showed the defendants in the shop.
Mr. Harrison described Nicholson as “off his head” saying his attitude was “aggressive, combative and hyper.”
The 15-year-old defendant was spotted on camera surveillance with a yellow pole.
A fourth defendant, Kian Gerrard, 20, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Simon Palmer said: ‘On the night of the attack, this group of young men had been hanging out at the Go Local store in Denaby Main, which was generally noisy and created a hostile atmosphere for the shoppers.
One of those people was Jerry Appicella; while living a predominantly solitary life, he was a familiar face in the community and visited the store daily. That night, Mr. Appicella came to the attention of these four men, who made fun of and mock him while he was in the store.
The four waited outside the store and Mr. Appicella began to go home in a nearby alley. What he didn’t know was that the group had come up with a plan to ambush him. Camera footage clearly shows Nicholson crouched, lurking and the others chasing him from behind.
The attack was brutal; Nicholson used a rock to attack him and his 15-year-old attacker landed blows with a metal pole. A woman who had previously offered to take Mr. Appicella home witnessed the latest bouts of the attack and rushed to him as the group fled the scene. ‘
DCI Palmer continued, “Mr. Appicella’s family tried to contact him the following week and then contacted the police concerned about his well-being. Officers forced into his home on December 15, and a murder investigation was swiftly launched.
Central to the investigation was detailed examination of camera images, which gave us a clear timeline of events and recorded the attack itself.
Nicholson was also caught on CCTV boasting about the Go Local store attack and using homophobic insults to describe his victim.
All four men were identified and arrested and later charged between December 18 and 24.
The two men and the 15-year-old boy will be sentenced in May 2021.