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Thursday 19 September 2019

Liverpool attack victim Seán Cox starts next stage of treatment in England

Sean Cox and his wife Martina.
Sean Cox and his wife Martina.
Sean Cox is being transported to a specialist neurological facility in the north of England for a 12-week rehabilitation programme (Teneo/PA)
Elated: Sean Cox with his family
Martina Cox, wife of Sean Cox, accepts a cheque from Liverpool FC.
Seán Cox looks on at the start of the match. Picture: PA
Martina Cox and her son Jack on the pitch prior to the kick-off. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Niamh Lynch

An Irishman who was attacked before a football match in Liverpool has been transferred to a specialist neurological facility in England for the next stage of his treatment.

Seán Cox (54) was attending the Champions League semi-final first leg tie between Liverpool and Roma in April 2018 when he suffered life-changing injuries in the unprovoked attack.

In a statement, Mr Cox’s wife Martina said that Seán’s progress has been "extremely slow" over the last eighteen months.

"He finds it very difficult to express himself verbally and, while it seems he can hear and understand more, his speech remains very challenged. It is unlikely that he ever will walk again which is difficult to accept for someone as active as Seán used to be," she said.

However, Ms Cox says that her husband remains positive, saying he’s "always in a great mood when watching Dublin GAA or Liverpool on the television".

Ms Cox also thanked the public for their donations, which have funded his rehabilitation treatment.

"Being able to bring Seán to England for rehabilitation and, in time, having him spend more time in our adapted home is all privately funded and has been made possible by the generosity of so many people and organisations who took Seán into their hearts."

The father of three, who was living in Dunboyne in Co. Meath, has been treated in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire for the last year and a half, after spending a month at the Walton Centre in Liverpool - a specialist neurological unit for brain injuries - following the incident. The next stage of rehabilitation will focus on the development of Seán’s speech, mobility, and cognitive functions.

Three men are currently in jail in relation to the attack.

Roma fan Simone Mastrelli (30) was jailed for three and a half years in February for the assault. Two other men - Filippo Lombardi (21) and Daniele Sciusco (29) - were jailed for violent disorder.

At the time, the court heard that Mr Cox was knocked to the ground, unconscious, by a single punch from Mastrelli after Seán and his brother, Martin, had "sadly by pure coincidence" entered the path of a group of Roma's "Ultra" fans.

Footage of the incident on Walton Breck Road, near The Albert pub, was played in court and showed Mastrelli initially aggressively confronting Mr Cox with his arms raised. Lombardi then came to the fore and raises a belt as Mastrelli moves back and then, from Mr Cox's right-hand side, he forcibly punches him to the face.

A witness described the incident as a "sudden and unprovoked attack" and a "sickening sight".

Additional money raised by the public has been put towards renovations to make Mr Cox’s home wheelchair friendly in time for Christmas. Ms Cox says that specialist equipment will also be installed, "which will mean Seán can spend time in the family home rather than continually being in a hospital environment

Liverpool comedian John Bishop will also host a show in the Three Arena in January 2020 in order to raise funds for Mr Cox’s ongoing treatment.

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