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Men convicted after football supporter left permanently brain damaged

AUGUST 2

A man has been sentenced following a violent disturbance that left an innocent football supporter permanently brain damaged.

Around 24 people set upon Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin and his friends in East Street, Southend, following a match between Cambridge and Southend United on March 21, 2015.

Mr Dobbin, 45, was knocked unconscious and suffered swelling on the brain.

He spent a year in hospital and rehabilitation before returning home to Mildenhall, Suffolk, in March 2016.

But he needs 24-hour care and has been left unable to walk or talk.

Ian Young, 41, an electrician, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff, was convicted of assisting an offender on July 14 following a trial at Basildon Crown Court. He admitted a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon, a pepper spray.

He was sentenced today, Wednesday August 2, to 14 months for assisting an offender and four months for possession of the pepper spray, to run consecutively. The 18-month term was suspended for 24 months. He must also complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

 



JULY 14

Thirteen men have been convicted following a violent disturbance that left an innocent football supporter permanently brain damaged.

Around 25 people set upon Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin and his friends following a match between Cambridge and Southend United on March 21, 2015.

A jury heard he and his friends had gone to the afternoon’s football game and then spent the evening at the Blue Boar pub, where they watched the televised England vs France rugby match.

But when a group of men went in looking for Cambridge supporters, they decided to head home, fearing they would be targeted.

When they reached Prittlewell train station, Mr Dobbin and some of his friends became separated from the rest of the group when they took a wrong turning.

As they passed The Railway Tavern at around 7.15pm to reach the London-bound platform, a large group of men came out of the pub and set upon them in East Street.

Mr Dobbin, 45, was knocked unconscious and suffered swelling on the brain.

He was put in an induced coma and spent four months in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, followed by and eight months in rehabilitation.

He returned home to Mildenhall, Suffolk, in March 2016 but needs 24-hour care and has been left unable to walk or talk.

Essex Police had received information there were plans for a fight before the match involving a minority of people alleging to be football supporters from Cambridge and Southend.

However, officers prevented this happening and also dealt with a number of other public disorder incidents. 

Neither Mr Dobbin nor his friends were involved in any of those incidents. They were among the vast majority of genuine football fans who had been in Southend to enjoy the match.

Twelve men were charged with violent disorder and conspiracy to commit violent disorder. 

Another was charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder and assisting an offender. 

They stood trial at Basildon Crown Court on June 5. All 13 were convicted today, Friday, July 14, at the conclusion of that trial. 

Twleve of them were sentenced back at the same court on Monday, July 17.

Greg AllenGreg Allen, 29, a painter, of Wellington Avenue, Westcliff, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder;

Jailed for three years

Lewis CourtnellLewis Courtnell, 34, a fence installer, of Stadium Road, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder;

Jailed for three and a half years

Jamie ChambersJamie Chambers, 24, a removals operative, of Southchurch Avenue, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder;

Jailed for four years

Thomas RandallThomas Randall, 22, a consumer credit employee, of Seaforth Avenue, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder;

Jailed for five years

Michael ShawyerMichael Shawyer, 32, a tiler, of Belgrave Road, Leigh-on-Sea, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder;

Jailed for two and a half years

Matthew PetcheyMatthew Petchey, 26, unemployed, formerly of Lascelles Gardens, Rochford, found guilty of violent disorder;

Jailed for three and a half years

Alexander WoodsJames WoodsTwins Alexander Woods and James Woods, a chef, both 25 and of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, both found guilty of violent disorder;

Alex was jailed for five years. James was jailed for three years

Philip McGillPhilip McGill, 32, an electrician, of Hornby Avenue, Westcliff, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder;

Jailed for three years

Rhys PullenRhys Pullen, 21, a telecommunications engineer of Bridge Road, Wickford previously admitted the charge of violent disorder;

Jailed for 16 months

Scott NichollsScott Nicholls, 40, a construction worker, of Little Spenders, Basildon, found guilty of violent disorder; 

Jailed for three and a half years

Ryan CarterRyan Carter, 21, unemployed, of no fixed address, found guilty of violent disorder;

Jailed for five years

Ian YoungIan Young, 41, an electrician, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff, was found guilty of assisting an offender.

Sentencing adjourned to August 2.

Following the sentencing hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “I am aware that some of the defendants’ friends have made comment that Mr Dobbin was ejected from the match and caused problems in the pub. This is absolute nonsense.  Let me be clear, Simon Dobbin is a thoroughly decent man. He was not involved in any form of disturbance and was not ejected from the match or any other establishment. He is an entirely innocent victim of an unprovoked savage attack which left him with a permanent and devastating brain injury.

"My heart goes to Mr Dobbin’s family who have shown immense courage and dignity throughout the investigation and trial. I hope that the sentences issued today help to draw a line under this awful chapter of their lives and they can now concentrate on the future.
 
“The investigation into what happened that night and bringing those responsible for what happened to him to justice has been complex.

“My team have spoken to well over one hundred witnesses, spent about 500 man hours reviewing CCTV, carried out detailed analysis of mobile phone data and carried out detailed forensic analysis. Despite our best efforts we still don’t know who exactly threw the fateful blows that left Simon with his life-changing injuries.

“Someone, however, does know. And while today we have seen a number of people sentenced in connection with the events of that evening, I still ask anyone who has information to contact us.

“What happened to Simon could have happened to anyone’s husband, father, or son.

“I also hope this tragic case highlights the consequences of football-related violence.

“We know there had been tensions involving a minority of people claiming to be football supporters that day.

“We believe they had been looking for a fight, and this resulted in the attack on Simon and his friends, who were completely innocent and not involved in any previous quarrels or incidents.

“No genuine football fan would ever be involved in, or condone, such acts of such horrific violence.

“This was not fuelled by a passion for the game. It was fuelled by alcohol and thuggery and there is never any justification for such mindless behaviour.”

DCI Pasmore added: “On March 21, 2015 the individuals convicted today acted together as a pack of animals.

“Within minutes a thoroughly decent man was left with a devastating brain injury.

“It was always my intention to identify and bring to justice the person or persons directly responsible for Mr Dobbin’s assault.

“Sadly that was not to be. However that aspect of the case remains open and I appeal to anyone who has information to come forward either directly to my team or confidentially via Crimestoppers.”

Mr Dobbin’s wife Nicole said: “Although he is alive, Simon no longer has a life. And not only did those responsible destroy Simon’s life, but they took mine also.

“Simon and I were inseparable. Now I will never hear my husband tell me he loves me again. Nor can he tell me not to worry and that everything is going to be okay.

“I will never feel his arms around me yet I need this now more than ever.

“I miss the old Simon so much, such a fun loving family man.

“It destroys me knowing that one day I will wake up without my husband, whose life expectancy has now been reduced due to this one act of violence.

“Without the courageous paramedics and policemen on scene, he would not be here today. Without them, this would have been a murder trial.

“I’m just so thankful that I have the support of my parents, siblings and close friends.

“This nightmare will never end for us.”

Their daughter Emily said: “Everything my dad did, I was right there by his side.

“I know how lucky I am to have a father that was more like my best friend.

“We were inseparable and he was my hero.

“I am tortured everyday having to watch him be so frustrated and angry.

“He cries at anything violent on TV and struggles to watch the football. I’ve never seen my dad cry before this.

“I believe he is fully aware of his circumstances and I know that he is the same man I once knew as he laughs at old jokes and has the exact sense of humour as before.

“He is trapped in his body and it’s so difficult to see.

“I am never going to get my gentle giant of a dad back, my mum’s never going to get her loving husband back and our family won’t ever be fixed.”

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