Friday 15 November 2019

Brother 'turned to see Sean Cox lying motionless on the ground' - trial hears

Assaulted: Sean Cox was ‘knocked unconscious and seriously injured’
Assaulted: Sean Cox was ‘knocked unconscious and seriously injured’

Eleanor Barlow

A Roma supporter lashed out at an Irish Liverpool fan as he fell to the ground during a joint attack ahead of a Champions League semi-final, a court has heard.

Filippo Lombardi (21) is accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Sean Cox (53), from Dunboyne, Co Meath, outside Anfield before the game on April 24.

Opening the trial at Preston Crown Court yesterday, Neville Biddle, prosecuting, said: "Before the match, a Liverpool supporter, Sean Cox, who had come to Liverpool with his older brother Martin, was assaulted and knocked unconscious and seriously injured."

He added: "It's the Crown's case that two men were involved in the assault on Sean Cox - this defendant and another."

Mr Cox's wife and other family members sat in the public gallery for the start of the trial.

The court heard Mr Cox and his brother had been outside the Albert pub when they heard the group chanting and Martin Cox had gone to move away from them.

Mr Biddle said: "He turned to see Sean Cox lying motionless on the ground."

The trial continues.

Earlier evidence

Mr Biddle said Lombardi and the man shown on footage punching Mr Cox, referred to as N40, were at the front of a group of about 50 fans who walked from Liverpool Lime Street station to the stadium ahead of the match.

He said: "A witness, Mykel Askew, was on Venmore Street when he noticed the group of Italian fans all walking in the same direction approaching the ground, many of them had their faces covered and they were chanting in Italian.

"He believed that they were going to cause trouble.

"Some of the group were taking their belts off and were holding them in a threatening manner."

He said footage pieced together from CCTV and mobile phones showed Lombardi raising his belt as if to strike Sean Cox, before the other man punched him.

He added: "As he is falling to the ground, the defendant lashes out at him as he falls.

"It is quite clear, the Crown say, the defendant and N40 are acting together in a joint attack on an innocent bystander."

He said Lombardi was identified on footage by Italian officers and arrested before leaving the match.

Alison Gurden, defending, said Lombardi, who had an Italian interpreter with him in the dock, had admitted an offence of violent disorder and accepted his behaviour following the attack on Mr Cox "went too far".

She said: "There's no dispute Mr Cox suffered catastrophic injuries and it's clear that Mr Cox suffered those injuries due to the fact he was punched but Mr Lombardi would tell you he didn't punch Mr Cox and he doesn't accept he assaulted either Sean Cox or his brother Martin Cox."

She said Mr Lombardi had "no idea" N40 was going to assault Mr Cox or anyone else in an unprovoked attack.

Irish Independent

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