Roma fan not guilty of attack on Sean Cox
A Roma football supporter has been found not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Irish Liverpool supporter Sean Cox.
Filippo Lombardi (21) was acquitted over an attack on Mr Cox (53), from Co Meath, outside Anfield stadium in Liverpool ahead of the Champions League semi-final on April 26.
Mr Lombardi, from Rome, denied inflicting grievous bodily harm on the father of three.
Mr Cox suffered "catastrophic injuries" when he was assaulted on the street before the match.
The trial, which began last Thursday, heard Lombardi arrived at the ground after walking from Liverpool Lime Street train station with a group of 20 to 30 Roma supporters.
Footage taken on Walton Breck Road, which was full of Liverpool supporters ahead of the game, appeared to show Lombardi swinging his belt in the direction of Mr Cox, who was standing with his brother Martin.
Lombardi, who had an Italian interpreter in court but gave most of his evidence in English, claimed he had taken his belt off because he became lost and feared he was walking into a dangerous situation among Liverpool fans outside the ground.
He said a man standing behind Martin Cox said something to him about a fight and he swung the belt at him to get him away but did not notice Sean Cox until he saw him lying on the ground.
In her closing speech, Alison Gurden, defending, said: "You don't have to be certain that what Mr Lombardi has said is accurate, you just have to effectively have doubt in your mind as to whether prosecution have proved this case."
The court heard Lombardi was a university student working at a debt recovery call centre and has no history of being involved in football-related violence.
Lombardi admitted a separate charge of violent disorder and said he made a "mistake" when he became involved in a fight following the assault on Mr Cox.
Mr Cox, from Dunboyne, suffered a severe, traumatic brain injury in the attack and is still unable to talk or sit up unaided, the jury has been told.
About half-a-dozen members of his family, including his wife Martina, attended the trial in England.
Judge Brown praised Mr Cox's family, including his wife, and said they had acted with the "greatest of dignity and respect".
There was no visible reaction from the public gallery, where three members of Lombardi's family were also sitting, when the verdict was announced yesterday.