Roma fan jailed for 'catastrophic' assault
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A Roma fan has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for attacking a Liverpool supporter outside Anfield stadium.
Simone Mastrelli, 30, was sentenced at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to the assault.
Sean Cox, 56, from County Meath, Ireland, suffered catastrophic head injuries in the attack.
The father-of-three was assaulted outside Anfield stadium before a Champions League semi-final first leg tie between Liverpool and AS Roma on 24 April last year.
Mr Cox spent four-and-a-half weeks at the Walton Centre in Liverpool, a specialist neurological unit for brain injuries, before being airlifted to a unit in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.
He is recovering at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
Mastrelli was extradited last month after being arrested on a European Arrest Warrant.
He pleaded guilty to unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox.
A separate count of violent disorder was allowed to lie on file by the Crown Prosecution Service after it accepted his not guilty plea to the charge.
Another Roma fan, Filippo Lombardi, 21, was cleared of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Cox in October, but was jailed for three years for violent disorder.
A third man, Daniele Sciusco, 29, from Rome, admitted violent disorder and was jailed for two-and-a-half years in August 2018.
Sentencing, Record of Preston Judge Mark Brown said: “There is no doubt in my mind that you went to the stadium as a group to sort out the Liverpool supporters and in doing so you have destroyed the life of an innocent man and his family.
“This was on any view a dreadful offence. It has had a profound impact on Mr Cox and his family.”
Before the sentencing, the court heard that Mr Cox was knocked down with a single punch from Mastrelli and was left unconscious on the ground.
He and his brother Martin had “sadly by pure coincidence” entered the path of a group of Roma’s “Ultra” fans, which included the defendant.
Footage of the incident was played to the court, showing Mastrelli aggressively confronting Mr Cox with his arms raised.
Lombardi, who had already been sentenced, then appears and can be seen raising a belt before Mr Cox is punched in the face by Mastrelli.
A witness said the incident was “sudden and unprovoked” and a “sickening sight”.
Prosecutor Keith Sutton said Mastrelli moved away as Mr Cox lay on the ground and checked his own face covering was in place before he merged into a crowd of other fans.
He then changed his appearance by removing his face covering, hood and jacket and went into the stadium to watch the match.
A witness spotted the group and thought “there was going to be some trouble” as he began to film them on his mobile phone, Mr Sutton said.
Mr Cox’s brother Martin described hearing “a lot of noise” close to where the attack took place, including “shouting and chanting but not in a good way”.
When he turned to his sibling, he found him already on the floor and as he went to his aid he was kicked by members in the group.