Two men and a 15-year-old boy have been found guilty for the ”feral attack” and violent killing of a gay man in England last year. The Sheffield Crown Court convicted Shae Nicholson, 20, of murder, and Martell Fabian Brown, 24, and the unidentified minor of manslaughter following a four-week trial. A fourth man, Kian Gerrard, was found not guilty. The men set an ambush and then violently attacked Jerry Appicella, 51, as he walked home from a local market on December 3.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Palmer said in a statement the group had been loitering at a local store in the village of Denaby Main “generally being rowdy” and “creating a hostile atmosphere for shoppers” on the night of the murder.
The victim, Jerry Appicella, was described in court testimony as a solitary man who was well-known in the village. Suffering from alcohol dependency, the he made daily trips to the store. Palmer said the four men “taunted and mocked him” while he was in the store just before the killed him.
CCTV footage shown at the trial captured the group as they set an ambush for the quiet man after he left the store. Nicholson was seen “crouched down, lying in wait” while his partners in crime stalked Appicella from behind. Nicholson then struck Appicella with a brick while the 15-year-old boy “landed blows with a metal pole.” A woman who witnessed the end of the attack helped the stricken victim back to his home as his attackers fled the scene. Appicella reportedly locked the door behind him, and died alone from his injuries a short time later.
His body wasn’t discovered until 12 days later on December 15 when family contacted police concerned about his welfare. Officers forced entry into his home and found his deceased body.
Police said CCTV footage was instrumental in both the capture and conviction of the killers. In addition to providing evidence the group harassed people and targeted Appicella for verbal abuse and violent physical assault, Nicholson was later caught on video “bragging about the attack” and “using homophobic slurs to describe the victim.”
The motive for the crime remains in dispute. The court heard testimony that the defendants attacked that night simply “because they wanted to,” but authorities believe that Appicella’s sexual orientation and alcohol dependency may have played a role in targeting him.
The trio will be sentenced on May 3, 2021.