Five men have been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a football fan who was left brain damaged by an unprovoked attack in Southend in 2015 – before dying from his injuries five years later.
Father-of-three Simon Dobbin, 48, from Mildenhall, Suffolk, was beaten and ‘kicked like a football’ by hooligans after going to watch Cambridge draw against Southend.
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 on March 21, 2015.
He died in October last year, after his story touched the nation while appearing on BBC DIY SOS and having his house adapted by presenter Nick Knowles and a team of 900 volunteers.
Homicide detectives arrested five men, aged 27, 30, 34, 39 and 45, at addresses across south Essex on Friday morning.
Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said the investigation showed there was a ‘direct, causal link’ between Mr Dobbin’s injuries from the attack and his death.
He said: ‘As part of that investigation, this morning we have arrested five people on suspicion of murder.
‘We are also speaking to a number of people who we are considering as witnesses in order to gather their accounts.
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) previously said she 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
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 (pictured centre) on DIY SOS
‘Simon’s wife, Nicole, and their daughter, Emily, have been kept updated on our progress every step of the way.
‘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.’
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 is pictured (centre) with Cambridge fans at Southend United’s Roots Hall in 2015
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.
Mrs Dobbin last year demanded a ‘Simon’s Law’ to give tougher sentences to serious thugs in light of her husband’s attack.
Describing her proposed changes, she wrote on a petition page: ‘How can someone be clinically dead for seven minutes and this be a violent public disorder?’
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
Nicole, speaking to exclusively MailOnline last year, added: ‘I’ve had my soulmate taken away and they’ve lost nothing.
‘Hopefully we will get the justice we deserve. I’d like to see them charged with murder and conspiracy to murder. They all knew what was going on.
‘I’m hoping that the ones who stamped will get murder charges and the ones who were part of the lead up to his attack should also be done for conspiracy to murder.
‘I’m terrified of going through another court case but if they do charge someone then I’ll be there.’