Wife of Simon Dobbin calls for harsher jail sentences for football violence

Simon Dobbin with his wife Nicole and daughter Emily. 
Picture: Mark Westley.
Simon Dobbin with his wife Nicole and daughter Emily. Picture: Mark Westley.

The wife of a Mildenhall man who was left permanently brain damaged in a ‘savage’ attack by a gang of football hooligans has called for harsher punishments for such violence after 12 men were jailed.

The men, branded a ‘pack of animals’ by police, are now serving prison terms ranging from 16 months to five years for their role in the unprovoked assault on Simon Dobbin, in Southend.

He spent a year in hospital and rehabilitation before returning home, where he needs 24-hour care and is unable to walk or talk.

His wife Nicole is campaigning for a change in the law to allow judges to hand out harsher sentences of at least 10 years for such crimes.

She said: “I’m over the moon it’s over now and we can move forward with our lives but as for the sentencing it’s a bit of a joke.

“I understand it’s the maximum the judge can give but I don’t think it will deter from this happening in the future.

“It was a 90 second attack and it has changed Simon’s life forever. In two and a half years they will have their lives back.”

“Football violence is never going to be stamped out unless the law changes.”

Around 24 people set upon Simon, 45, and his friends following a match between Cambridge and Southend United on March 21, 2015.

Police do not know who threw the fateful blows which left Simon with his life-changing injuries but 12 men were sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on Monday for their part in the attack. A 13th man will be sentenced later.

Eight men were found guilty of violent disorder, alongside Rhys Pullen, 21, of Bridge Road, Wickford, who had already admitted the charge. He was handed a 16-month jail term.

The others were: Ryan Carter, 21 (five years’ imprisonment); Jamie Chambers, 24, of Southend (four years); Lewis Courtnell, 34, of Southend (three-and-a-half years); Scott Nicholls, 40, of Basildon (three-and-a-half years); Matthew Petchey, 26, of Rochford (three-and-a-half years); Thomas Randall, 22, of Southend (five years); Alexander Woods, 25, of Westcliff (five years), and James Woods, 25, of Westcliff (three years).

Three men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder. They were Greg Allen, 29, of Westcliff (three years); Phil McGill, 32, of Westcliff (three years) and Michael Shawyer, 32, of Leigh-on-Sea (two-and-a-half years).

Ian Young, 41, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff, was found guilty of assisting an offender and will be sentenced on August 2.

Nicole, 46, who is Simon’s main carer, will write to West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock and Downing Street to try to get the law changed.

She said that she would have liked Pullen to have received a suspended sentence as ‘he was the only one who showed any kind of remorse’.

Nicole said she did not want to see any violent repercussions between supporters of the two football teams in the wake of the sentencing.

She took Simon to the court for the sentencing to show those responsible the impact of his injuries.

Nicole added: “It gives closure to Simon. We will try to move on from this as a family and give him the best life we possibly can.”