Five men held on suspicion of murder of football fan

Former RAF serviceman Simon Dobbin was assaulted in Essex, following a Southend United vs Cambridge United match on March 21 2015.

Undated family handout file photo of Simon Dobbin. Five men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of the football fan who died in 2020 after being left with permanent brain damage following an attack on his way home from a match in Southend in 2015 (Family photo/ PA)
Undated family handout file photo of Simon Dobbin. Five men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of the football fan who died in 2020 after being left with permanent brain damage following an attack on his way home from a match in Southend in 2015 (Family photo/ PA)

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a football fan who was left permanently brain damaged by an attack on his way home from a match and died five years later.

Former RAF serviceman Simon Dobbin was assaulted in Southend in Essex, following a Southend United vs Cambridge United match on March 21 2015.

He died aged 48 on October 21, 2020.

The married father was working as a transport manager for a fuel company until the attack.

Simon Dobbin, who died in 2020 after being left with permanent brain damage following an attack on his way home from a match in Southend in 2015 (Family photo/ PA)

His family provided him with 24-hour care at home in Mildenhall, Suffolk until his death.

Essex Police said they began treating his death as a homicide after medical tests showed a direct link between his death and the injuries he had sustained.

On Friday, five men aged 30, 34, 39, 45 and 27 were arrested at addresses across south Essex, the force said.

They are in custody and being questioned on suspicion of murder.

In November last year, police announced a £20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those directly responsible for Mr Dobbin’s death.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said police had received “more information” and “we’ve got people that have come forward” following the appeal.

Nicole Dobbin, the widow of Simon Dobbin, speaking at an Essex Police press conference, alongside their daughter, Emily Dobbin, 22, in 2021. (Sam Russell/PA)

He said officers had also analysed evidence obtained in 2015 “with a fine tooth comb” and reviewed information from a trial in 2017 which saw 13 men convicted for their involvement in the attack.

Mr Jennings said he could not comment on whether any of the five arrested men were among the 13 men convicted at the 2017 trial.

“Simon’s wife, Nicole, and their daughter Emily have been kept updated on our progress every step of the way,” Mr Jennings said.

“Simon was a completely innocent party in the disorder that took place that day and his family have been through an unimaginable time.

“The injuries Simon sustained that day did not just change his life, they also changed the lives of Nicole and Emily.

“As a team, we will do everything we possibly can to secure justice for Nicole, Emily and Simon’s wider family and friends.”

He said that as well as the five arrests, detectives are also speaking to a number of people considered witnesses to gather their accounts.

Mr Dobbin’s widow Nicole, then aged 50, spoke at a press conference in November 2021 alongside their 22-year-old daughter Emily Dobbin as police announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those directly responsible for his death.

She said they had had “over five of the most horrendous years” and “now grieve all over again” after Mr Dobbin died.

“Simon was 48 years old with so much to look forward to,” she said.

“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.”

Mr Dobbin appeared on an episode of DIY SOS in 2019, with TV presenter Nick Knowles, interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and a team of volunteers spending nine days adapting the family home to better suit Mr Dobbin’s needs.

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