Two men and teenage boy jailed for killing reclusive gay man in senseless ‘feral attack’

Jerry Appicella murder

Two men and a teenage boy have been jailed for killing 51-year-old Jerry Appicella with a pipe and brick in a horrifying “feral attack”.

Appicella was ambushed in an alleyway outside his local shop in Doncaster in December 2019. He was found dead in his bungalow 12 days later, having fallen into a coma from a bleed to the brain.

Shae Nicholson, 20, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 15 years, Doncaster Free Press reported Saturday (8 May), having been found guilty of murder in March.

Martell Fabian Brown, 24, and a 15-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were found guilty of manslaughter, receiving jail sentences of six years and 30 months respectively.

Appicella was a reclusive alcoholic whom the group targeted simply “because they wanted to”, prosecutors said, adding that his sexuality, appearance or alcohol dependency may also have been a motive.

“This was a horrific attack on a man who was a familiar face in his community,” said detective chief inspector Simon Palmer, as reported by the Doncaster Free Press.

“Whilst Mr Appicella lived a mainly solitary life, he tragically came into the orbit of these men that evening, who attacked him because they wanted to, and because they could.

“Our investigation revealed that they ambushed Mr Appicella, with Nicholson lying in wait and the rest of the group stalking Mr Appicella until he was alone and out of sight.

“Having suffered severe head injuries, Mr Appicella, with the help of a member of the public, managed to get home, assuring her that he would be OK.

“Locking his door behind him, Mr Appicella succumbed to the injuries inflicted by these shameless thugs.”

After finding the victim’s body detectives quickly discovered shocking CCTV footage of the attack, which proved central to the investigation.

Nicholson can clearly be seen crouched down and lying in wait as the others stalk Appicella from behind. They then launch into the man, Nicholson landing blows with a brick while the 15-year-old wields a metal pole.

“They beat him, kicked him, stamped on him and struck him with a weapon,” said prosecutor John Harrison. “He was knocked to the floor and the attack continued.”

Cameras also captured the aftermath of the murder, when Nicholson returned to the scene and bragged about his actions.

“Once we had identified those involved, our detectives took to the streets of Denaby Main, carrying out extensive house-to-house enquiries to track the group down,” Palmer said.

“Despite their efforts to evade us, Brown for example was arrested after being found in a wheelie bin, they were swiftly charged, much to the relief of the community.”

All the defendants denied their part in the murder, including a fourth man who was found not guilty.

Although Appicella lived a “mainly solitary life” he was a familiar face in the area, and the incident is said to have shocked the South Yorkshire community.

“Innocent people do not deserve to be caught up in such acts of violence, Mr Appicella did not deserve to have his life ended in this way,” Palmer said.

“I hope the fact that these individuals have been jailed is of some reassurance to the community and that they feel a little safer knowing these young men are behind bars.

“Sadly, I know it is of little comfort to Mr Appicella’s mother and brother, who have lost someone they loved dearly. I would like them to know our thoughts remain with them today.”