Daughter of football fan who died after brutal attack ‘had to grieve twice’

The daughter of a beloved football fan who died five years after a life-changing attack said losing her dad has been like “grieving twice”.

Essex Police are now offering a £20,000 reward for information to find the people who were responsible for the much-loved football fan’s death.

In March 2015, Emily Dobbin, 22, and her mum, Nicole’s lives changed forever when their dad and husband Simon Dobbin was brutally attacked after a football match in Southend.

Simon – a dad-of-three – was ambushed on his way to Prittlewell station after a football game between Southend United and Cambridge United, Essex Live reports.

The men, who had been scouting out potential “targets”, spotted the group of Cambridge fans Simon was part of and launched the attack.

He was left permanently brain damaged by the assault where some of the men were said to have acted “like a pack of animals.”

The attack had to be broken up by officers using pepper spray.

Five years on from the attack, on October 21, 2020, Simon tragically passed away, leaving his family and the community devastated.

In the year since Emily and Nicole have had to begin reliving that horrendous night over and over again after police identified a “causal link” between his injuries and death.

Police are now investigating his death as a homicide and are urging people to come forward to help with their investigation.

Emily and Nicole hope that by sharing the impact the attack had on their lives will encourage people to come forward with new information.

Emily had been at university studying when her dad sadly passed away, just five years after the attack that irrevocably changed all of their lives.

“It’s been like grieving twice,” Emily said.

“The first time, we still had some part of him but last year when he died, we had to go through the whole process again.”

Nicole added: “We are living the whole thing again, going back to that night he was attacked, we are living that night every day now.

“We were convinced Simon would wake up with a headache in the very early days but we lost a big part of him that day and we grieved for what we lost.

“But we continued to try and give him the best life we could but then that was taken away as well.”

Nicole’s entire life became dedicated to caring for her husband for five years.

Even though they knew the injuries he sustained would limit his life, Nicole still hoped he would make it to old age.

“I gave up my job as a full-time carer to look after him, I had to be trained in certain parts of his care,” she said.

“My life revolved around making sure he had his medication, making sure he was comfortable, his feed and everything else and all of a sudden, that’s all gone.

“I was just totally lost.”

Now, Essex Police have announced a £20,000 reward for information to find the people who were directly responsible for Simon’s death.

Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings urged any members of the public to come forward with information as well as the 13 people originally arrested and convicted to help with their investigation.

“A lot has changed in six years, a lot were quite young at the time and have grown up, have probably got families themselves,” he said.

“You should come forward if you are not physically responsible for Simon’s assault that sadly led to his death last year.”

The Superintendent added that they have analysed forensics, suspect interviews and the previous court proceedings but need information on who is physically responsible for assaulting Simon, adding the investigation would be a challenge but “not impossible”.

He also appealed to anyone who may have heard any “whispers” over the last few years from conversations or things they saw that may help their efforts progress.

For Emily and Nicole, they want justice for their dad and husband.

“We just want the justice for Simon,” Nicole said.

“Someone has got to pay for what they have done. We have suffered as a family, lost a great person and if someone is charged found guilty or whatever it will deter people from getting involved in such hideous crimes.

“People shouldn’t go to a football match and not come home. They should have enjoyed their day but it was destroyed.

“We just want anybody there that night to come forward, anything you might have seen or heard come forward.”

She urged anyone with information about the attack on Mr Dobbin to come forward, adding: “Any details, no matter how small, will aid in the ongoing investigation.”