£20,000 reward offered for news on hooligans behind Simon Dobbin death

Brain-damaged DIY SOS star’s wife vows to bring his killers to justice as police offer £20,000 reward to find hooligans who attacked him after game in 2015 leading to his death five years later

  • Nicole Dobbin, 50, leads calls for justice over killers of football fan Simon Dobbin
  • Cambs United fan, from Mildenhall Suffolk, was attacked with a friend in 2015
  • The father-of-three was left permanently brain damaged and unable to talk and Basildon Crown Court convicted 13 men for their roles in the assault in 2017 
  • Crimestoppers and Essex Police have offered a £20,000 reward for information

The widow of football fan Simon Dobbin, who died five years after he was attacked on his way home from an away match, said she wants to see those responsible for his death brought to justice. 

Mr Dobbin, from Mildenhall, Suffolk, was beaten and ‘kicked like a football’ by hooligans after going to watch Cambridge draw against Southend in an unprovoked attack.

The Cambridge United supporter, who served in the RAF, suffered permanent brain damage and was left unable to walk or talk following the horrifying assault in March 21, 2015.  

He died in October last year aged 48, after his story touched the nation while appearing on BBC DIY SOS and having his house adapted by Nick Knowles and a team of 900 volunteers. 

It comes as Essex Police announced a £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those directly responsible for Mr Dobbin’s death. 

His widow, Nicole, 50, said: ‘We have had over five of the most horrendous years and we now grieve all over again whilst the individuals who planned and carried out this attack walk free, left to live their lives however they wish without a second thought for any of us.

‘Simon was 48 years old with so much to look forward to. Now he won’t be able to grow old with me or watch his daughter get married and his grandchildren grow up.

‘All these beautiful memories we could have made, stolen from us.’

Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin (left), from Mildenhall, Suffolk, was beaten and ‘kicked like a football’ by hooligans after going to watch Cambridge draw against Southend in an unprovoked attack in March 2015

Nicole Dobbin, 50, (right) wants the men responsible for stamping on Simon Dobbin’s head to serve life in prison for their role in the savage 2015 attack after a football match in Southend, Essex

Father-of-three Mr Dobbin was on his way home from watching Cambridge play Southend when rival supporters poured out of a nearby pub, The Railway Tavern, and ‘jumped’ a group of Cambridge fans in March 2015.

One witness, speaking after the attack, said the rival fans ‘just used [Mr Dobbin] like a football’, and said he was saved by a friend who laid on top of him.

Mr Dobbin suffered brain damage, damaged hips, broken ribs and a broken nose during the onslaught on and spent more than three weeks on life support. 

Eight men were found guilty of violent disorder, while three more were found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder. 

Just three of those found guilty were sentenced to a paltry maximum of five years behind bars, the top penalty for causing violent disorder.  

One of the thugs was found with a ‘hooligan card’ on their mobile phone that read: ‘First we take your life, then we take your wife.’ 

Essex Police said a post-mortem examination indicated a ‘causal link’ between the attack and Mr Dobbin’s death, from complications from a brain injury.

The force is treating his death as a homicide, either murder or manslaughter, and has announced a reward of up to £20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person, or people, directly responsible for Mr Dobbin’s death.

Crimestoppers has put up £10,000, which Essex Police is match-funding.

Mr Dobbin is pictured with his daughter Emily (left) and wife Nicole at Cambridge United FC

Mr Dobbin is pictured (centre) with Cambridge fans at Southend United’s Roots Hall in 2015

Thirteen men were convicted in 2017 for their involvement in the attack, and 12 of them were handed jail terms totalling more than 42 years.

Speaking at a police press conference on Tuesday, alongside their daughter, Emily Dobbin, 22, Nicole said: ‘We just want the justice for Simon.

‘Somebody’s got to pay for what they’ve done because we’ve suffered as a family.

‘We’ve lost a great person and if somebody is charged or found guilty, hopefully it will help deter people from getting involved in such hideous crimes.

‘People shouldn’t go to a football match and not come home the same person.

‘They should have enjoyed their day but it was destroyed.’

She said she hopes that at least one of those convicted in the 2017 trial will come forward with information.

His story touched the nation after a team of 900 volunteers came forward to help with the adaptation of his home in Peterhouse Close, Mildenhall with Nick Knowles on DIY SOS

Mrs Dobbin thanks the DIY SOS team for their work during the episode in January 2019

Mr Dobbin is pictured in hospital on DIY SOS in January 2019 after he was left brain damaged 

Asked if she had a direct message for them, she said: ‘Think about how your family would feel if it was you that was attacked and they were going through exactly what we went through.

‘Come forward, you’ve got nothing to lose.

‘Be the bigger person because I certainly wouldn’t take the blame for anyone else.’

Lead investigator, Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, said he believes that ‘some of those involved, of those 13, were responsible for the assault on Simon’.

Appealing for information, he said: ‘A lot has changed in six years.

Sympathy: The TV host paid tribute to the father-of-three with a touching post on Twitter

Before: Simon could not get out into the garden with his family because of access problems

After: Large glass doors were added and the garden was modernised to the family can get out and enjoy the space

‘A number of the 13 that were convicted of public order offences were quite young at the time and have now grown up, probably have families themselves.

‘So I do appeal to them to come forward if they’ve got any information.’

He said officers will be approaching the 13 people who were convicted as part of their homicide investigation.


The 12 men jailed for vicious attack 

Nine men jailed for violent disorder:

Five years for Ryan Carter, 21, of Southend-on-Sea

Four years for Jamie Chambers, 24, of Southend-on-Sea

Ryan Carter and Jamie Chambers

Three-and-a-half years for Lewis Courtnell, 34, of Southend-on-Sea

Three-and-a-half years for Scott Nicholls, 40, of Basildon

Lewis Courtnell (left) and Scott Nicolls

Three-and-a-half years for Matthew Petchey, 26, of Rochford

Sixteen months for Rhys Pullen, 21, of Wickford

Matthew Petchey (left) and Rhys Pullen

Five years for Thomas Randall, 22, of of Southend-on-Sea

Five years for Alexander Woods, 25, of Westcliff-on-Sea

Three years for James Woods, 25, of of Westcliff-on-Sea

Thomas Randall (left), Alexander Woods (middle) and James Woods (right)

Three men jailed for conspiracy to commit violent disorder:

Three years for Greg Allen, 29, of Westcliff-on-Sea

Three years for Phil McGill, 32, of Westcliff-on-Sea

Two-and-half-years for Michael Shawyer, 31, of Leigh-on-Sea

Greg Allen (left), Phillip McGill (middle) and Michael Shawyer (right)


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