A GANG of thugs left an innocent football fan with serious brain injuries in a “ferocious attack” sparked by their earlier humiliation in a fight, a court heard.

Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin was among a group of fans who were assaulted in East Street, Southend, at 7.15pm on March 21, 2015.

A trial at Basildon Crown Court involving 13 men is expected to last up to eight weeks.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said the attack was a “carefully prepared ambush” on fans who had played no part in earlier disturbances.

He said: “These defendants launched a ferocious attack. Bottles and glasses were thrown. During the attack one of the Cambridge supporters, Simon Dobbin, was kicked and stamped upon repeatedly. He sustained massive brain injuries.

“These defendants had no interest that afternoon in enjoying a football match. Their only interest lay in causing terrible and frightening violence.”

Mr Jackson told the court how Mr Dobbin, 44, had travelled by train with a friend to watch his team draw 0-0 at Roots Hall.

The pair initially went for a drink at the Railway Tavern, in East Street, designated by police for Southend fans, but then decided to leave for the Blue Boar, in Victoria Avenue, designated for away supporters. Both men then went to the stadium.

At about 2.30pm, a group of Southend fans got into a fight at the Spread Eagle, also in Victoria Avenue, with a group of Cambridge supporters.

Mr Jackson said this involved defendants Rhys Pullen, Ryan Carter, Scott Nicholls, and Michael Shawyer, known as “Little Man”. Text messages from Thomas Randall later suggested that Carter and Pullen had been “knocked out” and Shawyer was “fuming”.

Another message said: “Going to kick off big time after the game. We are going to ambush them.”

Mr Jackson said throughout the afternoon the defendants congregated in the Railway Tavern and could be seen on CCTV throwing mock punches.

At about 5pm, police broke up another fight between two sets of rival supporters outside the Railway Tavern.


Simon Dobbin

After the game, Mr Dobbin and his friend left Roots Hall and returned to the Blue Boar to watch the England v France rugby match with fellow Cambridge fans.

Mr Jackson said: “None of them had been involved in any violence that day. The prosecution case is that these defendants were wholly indiscriminate as to who they targeted as long as they could be identified as Cambridge fans.”

Matthew Petchey and Phillip McGill went to the Blue Boar at about 6.35pm, where they were followed by Greg Allen, Alexander Woods, James Woods, Jamie Chambers and Ryan Carter. At one point, someone shouted: “Any Cambridge in here?”

The group then left, except for McGill, who stayed behind and made frequent phone calls to other members of the group.

Feeling intimidated and “in danger” the Cambridge fans left the pub and started to walk towards Prittlewell station. Mr Jackson said they were followed by McGill.

Upon reaching the junction of East Street and Station Approach, the supporters accidently split into two groups, with Mr Dobbin and some others going the wrong way over a bridge, leaving them “entirely at the mercy” of the defendants.

The defendants can then allegedly be seen on CCTV leaving the Railway Tavern, some armed with bottles and glasses.

Mr Jackson said there is no CCTV footage of the “dreadful violence” that followed.

He said: “It isn’t possible to identify which of these defendants meted out that particular part of the violence. However, the prosecution say that acting together they had one common purpose and that was to threaten and use unlawful violence.”

Mr Jackson said witnesses reported seeing Mr Dobbin lying motionless on the ground, being hit repeatedly during the 90 second attack.

He said: “Simon Dobbin sustained massive and serious brain injuries in that attack. To this day he is unable to walk and no longer able to speak. Because of that, it has been impossible to take an account from him.”

Following the incident, the group returned to the Railway Tavern, which was then cordoned off by police. CCTV footage showed Petchey mimicking a headbutt, Randall miming a kick and various members of the group hugging each other.

James Woods, Scott Nicholls, Michael Shawyer and Rhys Pullen ran after the other group of Cambridge fans, before also returning to the pub.


Scott Nicholls


Ryan Carter


Thomas Randall

Everyone who left the scene was required to give their name, but Pullen escaped over a fence. Alexander Woods was arrested at the scene. Ian Young, who is not alleged to have been involved in the violence, stayed at the pub, where he lived in an upstairs flat. He is alleged to have allowed Lewis Courtnell to hide there.

Young later sent a text message to a friend saying: “I think someone has been badly hurt”.

Thomas Randall sent a text the following day saying: “If he dies, my life is over. I wish I never went out last night.”


James Woods


THIRTEEN men are accused of playing a role in the disturbance that left a football fan with life changing injuries.

All deny conspiracy to commit violent disorder. They are:

Ryan Carter, 21, of York Road, Southend

Jamie Chambers, 24, of Coleman Street, Southend

Lewis Courtnell, 33, of Stadium Road, Southend

Philip McGill, 32, of Hornby Avenue, Westcliff

Scott Nicholls, 40, of Little Spenders, Basildon

Michael Shawyer, 31, of Belgrave Road, Leigh

Greg Allen, 29, of Western Avenue, Westcliff

Thomas Randall, 22, of Seaforth Avenue, Southend

Alexander Woods, 25, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff

James Woods, 25, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff

Matthew Petchey, 26, of Lascelles Gardens, Rochford

Ian Young, 41, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff

Rhys Pullen, 21, of Bridge Road, Wickford

Most members of the group, minus Pullen and Young, deny committing violent disorder. Young was not involved in the violence but denies assisting an offender.