A 25-year-old waiter is fighting for his life after being attacked outside the pizzeria where he works last weekend.
Marco Pannone, from Fondi, a town in the province of Latina in Italy, was working at Canova Hall on Ferndale Road in Brixton, south London, on the evening of December 2.
At about 11.10 p.m., he was approached by two men who spoke to him and one of them punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.
The two men fled towards Nursery Road after the unprovoked assault, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Officers from the Met and London Ambulance Service were called to the scene 10 minutes after midnight on Saturday, December 3, after Marco was found injured – one hour after the attack.
The victim, identified as Mr Pannone by Italian media, was taken to King’s College Hospital with a head injury. According to the Met Police, he suffered life-changing injuries.
Detectives released a CCTV image of a man they want to identify and speak with in connection with the serious assault.
At the time of the incident, the man had dark hair and was dressed in a dark coat with a fur hood.
According to reports in Italian media, Mr Pannone moved to London five years ago to work as a waiter.
Doctors reportedly put Mr Pannone in a medically-induced coma after he underwent a delicate operation in a bid to save his life.
Witnesses said the men, who were both drunk, had been asked to leave the restaurant, but refused and then attacked the waiter when his back was turned.
Mr Pannone’s sister Veronica, 29, described him as “a gentle person” and told MailOnline : “He is between life and death. My brother is such a gentle person, he’s been living in London for five years and nothing like this has ever happened before, he always said how safe he felt there.”
She said she was contacted by a friend of Marco through Facebook after her brother was attacked, and receiving the message was “a shock” for her.
She explained: “Getting that message was such a shock. It was a friend of my brother’s who we didn’t know and he had found me on Facebook and told us he had been attacked and was in a bad way.
“Neither myself nor my parents had passports, so my uncle has gone to London to try and find out what happened.
“He got on the first flight to London and he’s with Marco now, and we are just hoping and praying that he pulls through.
“We just don’t know what happened. All we know is that he has been operated on and he is in a serious condition.”
Kickboxing instructor Bruno Romano, who trained Marco in his hometown, said he is “such a mild-mannered, polite and educated guy”.
“I don’t think he’s ever thrown a punch in anger,” he added, “and I’m not sure who would want to hurt him; it’s such a shock to everyone.”
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Detectives investigating a serious assault in Brixton are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man with whom they would like to speak.
“Police were called to Ferndale Road, SW9, around 00:10hrs on Saturday, 3 December, after a man was found injured.
“Officers attended along with the London Ambulance Service. A man, aged in his 20s, was taken to hospital with a head injury. He suffered life-changing injuries.
“The man’s family have been contacted by officers and are being kept informed about his condition and the progress of the investigation.”
Anyone who can help the investigation is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 85/03Dec. To remain anonymous contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.