Five men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a football fan who died five years after he was attacked on his way home from a match.
Former RAF serviceman and Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin, from Mildenhall in Suffolk, was assaulted in Southend in Essex after a match against Southend United on 21 March 2015.
The attack left him permanently brain damaged and he died aged 48 on 21 October 2020, five years after the incident.
The married father was working as a transport manager for a fuel company until the attack, but his family later had to provide him with 24-hour care at home until his death.
He appeared on an episode of DIY SOS in 2019 with TV presenter Nick Knowles, interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and a team of volunteers who spent nine days adapting the family home to better suit his needs.
What have police said?
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 (10 June), five men aged 30, 34, 39, 45 and 27 were arrested at addresses across south Essex, the force confirmed. They are now 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 that people “have come forward” following the appeal.
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.
He said: “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.”
Mr Jennings added that detectives are also speaking to several people considered witnesses to gather their account of events.
What has the family of Mr Dobbin said?
At a press conference in November 2021, Mr Dobbin’s widow Nicole, then aged 50, spoke 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 Simon’s death.
She said the attack had caused the family to suffer “five of the most horrendous years” and they had to “grieve all over again” after Mr Dobbin died.
Ms Dobbin said: “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.”