'Pack of animals' - football hooligans convicted of violent disorder which left Suffolk's Simon Dobbin brain damaged after Southend vs Cambridge
PUBLISHED: 15:02 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:45 14 July 2017
Thirteen men have been convicted following a violent disturbance that left innocent Suffolk football supporter Simon Dobbin 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.
Neither Mr Dobbin nor his friends were involved in any of the violent incidents earlier in the day – 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.
• Greg Allen, 29, a painter, of Wellington Avenue, Westcliff, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder
• Lewis Courtnell, 34, a fence installer, of Stadium Road, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder
• Jamie Chambers, 24, a removals operative, of Southchurch Avenue, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder
• Thomas Randall, 22, a consumer credit employee, of Seaforth Avenue, Southend, found guilty of violent disorder
• Michael Shawyer, 32, a tiler, of Belgrave Road, Leigh-on-Sea, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder
• Matthew Petchey, 26, unemployed, formerly of Lascelles Gardens, Rochford, found guilty of violent disorder
• Twins Alexander Woods and James Woods, a chef, both 25 and of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff, both found guilty of violent disorder
• Philip McGill, 32, an electrician, of Hornby Avenue, Westcliff, found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder
• Rhys Pullen, 21, a telecommunications engineer of Bridge Road, Wickford previously admitted the charge of violent disorder
• Scott Nicholls, 40, a construction worker, of Little Spenders, Basildon, found guilty of violent disorder; and
• Ryan Carter, 21, unemployed, of no fixed address, found guilty of violent disorder
• Ian Young, 41, an electrician, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff, was found guilty of assisting an offender.
Twelve of the 13 have been remanded ahead of a sentencing hearing at Basildon Crown Court on Monday, July 17. There is a hearing this afternoon to determine the position regarding Young.
Behaved like a pack of animals
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said after today’s hearing: “My thoughts are very much with Mr Dobbin’s family, who have shown amazing courage and dignity throughout the investigation and trial.
“It has taken my team two years of painstaking work to piece together the complex sequence of events surrounding this case and explain the movements and actions of 13 individuals in a manner that ensures that the jury can fully consider the evidence.
“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.”
‘Simon no longer has a life’
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.”
‘I will never get my gentle giant dad back’
Nicole and Simon’s 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.”