DIY SOS star died of brain injury after attack by ‘animal’ football hooligans

A football fan who was attacked after savage assault at an away match died five years later of complications from a brain injury, an inquest has heard.

Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin was set upon as he walked to the railway station by opposing supporters who acted "like a pack of animals" following his team's 0-0 away draw against Southend United on March 21 2015.

The devastating injuries left him unable to walk or talk, and on the BBC’s DIY SOS show, a team of 900 volunteers led by presenter Nick Knowles drastically upgraded Simon’s home to make easier for him to cope with his disabilities.

Essex coroner's officer Jo Instrall told a hearing in Chelmsford on Thursday that Simon "died suddenly at home" in Mildenhall, Suffolk, five years later, on October 21 2020, at the age of just 48.

His medical cause of death was recorded as "complications arising from hypoxic ischemic brain injury following an assault", Ms Instrall said.

Essex area coroner Sean Horstead formally opened the inquest into Simon's death and then suspended it "at the request of Essex Constabulary".

He said the hearing will resume "at the conclusion of any contemplated criminal proceedings".

Essex Police previously said a post-mortem examination indicated a "causal link" between the attack and Simon's death.

Detectives are investigating to see whether they can "directly and evidentially show who was responsible for his death".

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

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said at the time that "the individuals convicted today acted together as a pack of animals," adding: "Within minutes a thoroughly decent man was left with a devastating brain injury."

In February 2020, Simon's wife, Nicole, told the Daily Mirror of her horror at learning that some of the men had already been released.

She said: "It feels like a slap in the face. They are monsters. They didn't give any consideration to what they were doing.

"They didn't care what impact they'd had on somebody else's life and now it's like 'I've done my time. I can forget about this, now move on.'

"We don't have that luxury. We have to continue to fight every day. They only served half of their sentence."

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Acting Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said this week: "We have received the final report following the post-mortem examination and it shows pathologically there was a causal link between the assault Simon was subjected to, and his death.

"We will now carry out an investigation to see if we can directly and evidentially show who was responsible for his death.

"I know Simon's story has touched the lives of many people and we are supporting his family.

"My thoughts are with his friends and loved ones."

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