Wife of dad left disabled by thugs wants criminals to pay NHS to care for victims

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Wife of dad left disabled by thugs wants criminals to pay NHS to care for victims

Simon Dobbin was brutally attacked by football hooligans in Southend four years ago

Simon Dobbin was brutally attacked by football hooligans in Southend four years ago and was left permanently brain damaged (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

The wife of a father who was left permanently brain damaged after being brutally beaten by thugs wants a law introduced to make criminals pay their victims’ NHS bills.

On March 21, 2015, Simon Dobbin was viciously beaten by 12 football hooligans in Southend, in an unprovoked attack that would change his family’s life forever.

The father-of-one suffered a cardiac arrest and his heart stopped for seven minutes before he was resuscitated by paramedics.

But the shock assault left him with hypoxic brain damage, meaning he is unable to walk, talk, or move independently, along with being fed through a tube and breathes through a tracheostomy.

In 2017, all 12 of the football fan’s attackers were jailed for violent disorder, which carries a maximum of five years but most have only served half their sentences.

Now four years later, Simon’s wife Nicole and daughter Emily, 20, have launched a petition to introduce ‘Simon’s Law’, calling for harsher sentences for acts of violent disorder.

The mother told Metro.co.uk she wants to see the earnings or benefits of criminals deducted monthly and sent to the NHS to help care for the patients they have hospitalised.

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

The father spent a year in hospital to recover from his life-changing injuries (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

Simon with daughter Emily and wife Nicole before the attack (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Wife of 24 years Nicole, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, predicts her husband’s health care bill runs into the hundreds of thousands as he receives round-the-clock care.

‘Nobody has the right to take their fists and destroy somebody’s life in 90 seconds. Simon will never recover from his injuries,’ said the 48-year-old mother.

‘If you destroy someone’s life to that extreme you should be paying more to the NHS.

‘He was on life support for a few months and was in hospital for a year, that should be taken out of their [the attackers’] wages or benefits.

‘Now they’ve done their time they probably never think about Simon – they will carry on with their lives.

‘But if you have money taken out of your account, that’s a monthly reminder.’

The men were jailed for a range of 16 months to five years but nine of those have only served half their sentences and have since been released, while one got out after just four months.

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

Now Nicole has launched a petition calling for criminals’ earnings to be paid towards the NHS (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

She also hoped a change in law would help to deter football hooliganism (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

The couple have been together for 24 years (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Nicole, a former senior carer who gave up her job to look after Simon, 47, said she has been left frustrated by the justice system.

She added: ‘He was clinically dead for seven minutes. For me that was like attempted murder.

‘That’s not justice – serving half a sentence. We have been given a life one.

‘They should at least complete the full sentence.’

Speaking of when Simon was first brought home and the reality of their new lives dawned on the family, the mother said there were times she felt like giving up.

‘At the beginning it was really really difficult. He was in so much pain but I had to do it for him,’ she said.

‘It’s like he’s in a destroyed body. He’s definitely in there – he recognises people but he’s trapped in that body.

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

Nicole had to give up her job to become Simon’s carer (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

‘I have seen him cry and it’s heartbreaking because he can’t speak. I had never seen him cry before the attack.’

To make matters more difficult, their home wasn’t medically equipped for Simon’s new needs.

But things drastically improved after the family was put forward for an episode of SOS DIY, during which their home was transformed and made suitable for Simon’s needs.

The mother now has a more positive outlook and cherishes the moments she makes Simon laugh at memories, while adding that daughter Emily, who is now studying to become a paramedic, is her ‘rock’.

Nicole and Simon, a former transport manager at an oil company following nine years in the RAF, were forced to give up their jobs and claim benefits following the attack.

The carer said she wishes she could pay into the NHS to say thank you for helping her husband, but also to give staff a wage rise because they ‘deserve so much more than they get’.

Nicole said: ‘This is our way of giving back. Why should they have to pay for Simon when he didn’t do anything?

‘I don’t know where Simon or I would be without the NHS.’

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

Simon (L) was in the RAF for nine years before becoming a transport manager at an oil company (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Wife of man left disabled and brain damaged by thugs campaigns for harsher sentencing - Simon Dobin

The family have learnt to adapt to their new lives (Picture: Nicole Dobbin)

Now Nicole wants to get enough signatures for the petition to be considered in parliament.

She hopes football clubs will include it in their match programmes to raise awareness around football hooliganism.

‘It’s not a big thing I’m asking but it would benefit so many people who use and work in the NHS,’ she said.

‘And I want to do this because there is currently nothing to deter people from starting gang fights.

‘I want Simon’s story to stay out there because this could happen to anyone going to a football match or just walking down the street.’

Click here to support Nicole’s petition.

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