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  1. Updates on Friday, 14 July 2017
  2. Thirteen men convicted at end of Southend football hooliganism trial
  3. Rowdy off-duty police officers were 'argumentative and belligerent', says superior

Live Reporting

By Orla Moore

All times stated are UK

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Simon Dobbin

The "ferocious" assault after a match in Southend in 2015 left Simon Dobbin brain damaged.

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George Elokobi

Leyton Orient sign defender George Elokobi and striker Macauley Bonne, both from Colchester on two-year deals.

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Thanks Essex, and goodnight

That's it from the Essex Live team for this week so goodbye, and enjoy your weekend.

Thanks for your company, and hopefully you'll join us again from 08:00 on Monday, when we'll bring you more news, sport, travel and weather updates as they happen.

Today we've been covering the conviction of 13 men who attacked football fan Simon Dobbin after a match at Southend United.

Scroll down the page to follow that story as it happened, and if you want to comment about anything at all, use the "Get involved" button at the top of the page.

Chinchillas and cornsnakes in airing cupboard fire

Firefighters are trained to save animals from burning buildings and tricky situations, which is just as well as on Thursday afternoon they were faced with... 10 corn snakes and two chinchillas in a third floor flat fire.

An electrical fault caused a fire in the airing cupboard of the flat in Holden Close in Braintree.

The unusual pets were being kept in the living room, and as the flat was smoke-logged, Essex Fire and Rescue officers had to use ventilation fans to keep the safe from harm.

The service praised the flat owner for closing all the internal doors once her smoke alarm went off, helping protect the rest of the flat and her precious pets from damage.

Sadly, firefighters were too busy flighting the fire to take photographs, so here's a chinchilla and a corn snake in case you're not familiar with them. They are looking happy because they were not involved in the fire.

Chinchilla and corn snake

Woman suffers serious head injury after M25 crash

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

A woman in her 30s has been airlifted to hospital in a life-threatening condition after a serious crash on the M25 earlier this afternoon.

The crash, between a silver Kia Sportage and a lorry happened between junctions 29 and 30 around 14:00.

The woman, in her 30s, has suffered a serious head injury, say the ambulance service.

The clockwise carriageway remains closed with delays in the area. The anti-clockwise road is unaffected.

Simon Dobbin: 'Heartbreaking' CCTV released

The wife of a man who was left with permanent brain damage following an attack by Southend United fans said it has been "devastating" watching CCTV footage played to the court.

Thirteen men have been convicted over the attack on Cambridge United supporter Simon Dobbin who has been unable to walk or talk since the incident in Southend in March 2015.

Simon Dobbin: CCTV shows victim dancing in pub before attack

Nicole Dobbin, who lives with her husband in Mildenhall, Suffolk, said: "It's heartbreaking, especially just recently going through the court and seeing the CCTV footage of Simon dancing and singing in the background, that's something we will never have.

"Simon was always the life and soul of a party, he was very family orientated, we did everything together, the only times we didn't socialise is when he was at a football match or we were at work, otherwise we were always together. We don't have that anymore and we will never get that back."

Simon Dobbin: Heated arguments heard outside court after verdicts
Furious scenes erupted outside a court after 13 men were convicted over an attack on a football fan.

Fancy getting into motorsport?


Here's Red Bull team principal Christian Horner giving you five reasons why motorsport could suit you....

Red Bull Formula 1 Team's Christian Horner: five reasons to take part in motorsport

And if you want to look into it further, take a look at the Get Inspired guide.

Air ambulance at crash closes M25

The M25 has been closed to allow the air ambulance to land at the scene of a crash..

There's been a serious single-car accident clockwise between junction 29 for Basildon and junction 30 for Thurrock services, Highways England says.

View more on twitter

Essex Fire and Rescue is at the scene as well as the Essex air ambulance.

Diversions are in place and you can find them by following the link on the tweet above.

Simon Dobbin attack: Photos of attackers released

the defendants
Essex Police

Police have released photos of the thirteen men who attacked football fan Simon Dobbin, 44, leaving him with permanent brain damage.

The men were all found guilty of various offences in relation to the attack in March 2015 and will be sentenced on Monday.

The jury at Basildon Crown Court heard Mr Dobbin and his friends had gone to the afternoon's football game and then spent the evening at the Blue Boar pub, where they watched the England vs France rugby match.

But when a group of Southend fans entered the pub, the U's fans decided to head home, fearing they would be targeted.

When they reached Prittlewell train station, Mr Dobbin and some of his friends became separated from the rest of the group when they took a wrong turning.

As they passed The Railway Tavern around 19:15, a large group of around 25 men came out of the pub and set upon them in East Street.

Mr Dobbin was knocked unconscious and suffered swelling on the brain.

He was put in an induced coma and spent four months in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, followed by and eight months in rehabilitation.

He returned home to Mildenhall, Suffolk, in March 2016 but needs 24-hour care.

Simon Dobbin: Ferocious attack left fan unable to walk or talk
Thirteen men have been convicted over an attack on Simon Dobbin, a Cambridge United fan.

Severe disruption: M25 Essex anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex anti-clockwise severe disruption, between J30 for A13 Lakeside and J29 for A127.

M25 Essex - Queuing traffic on M25 anticlockwise between J30, A13 (Lakeside) and J29, A127 (Romford), because of a rolling road-block.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

M25 cleared of caravan chaos

It's all back to normal on the M25 after this morning's caravan catastrophe - whatever "normal" is for the M25 on a Friday afternoon...

Two lanes clockwise at junctions 26 and 27 were closed for a while after a caravan overturned, but that's all been cleared and all four lanes are now open, Highways England says.

Here's what it looks like at the moment - that's a lot better, right?

M25 in Essex
HIghways England

Cultural schemes benefit from funding boost

It's hoped more people will be able to get involved in the arts in this county after a £153,500 boost was given to 11 organisations.

Those benefiting from the county council's cultural development strategic fund include Colchester Arts Centre which will get £15,000 to help make its workshops and performances more accessible.

Colchester Arts Centre
Geograph/Paul Farmer

Orchestras Live will get the same amount to support its work with people with special needs, while Signals Essex Media Centre gets £27,000 towards its digital skills workshops.

"It is vital that we help to preserve cultural organisations in Essex as they have a positive impact on the lives of local residents, and make Essex a fun and exciting place to live," said Sue Barker, councillor for culture, communities and customers.

"I am heartened by the level of pride that people take in their local community,” she added.

Simon Dobbin attack: CPS statement

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has released a statement after thirteen men were convicted of various offences in relation to an attack after a football match that left Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin with brain damage.

The men were part of a gang which set out to ambush U's supporters following a match in Southend in March 2015.

Douglas Mackay, from the CPS said: "These men set out on that Saturday with the intention of getting involved in the most horrific violence.

"Their victims were chosen at random and were entirely innocent," he said.

Simon Dobbin
Nicole Dobbin

"The jury agreed with the prosecution that each of these men played an active part in planning or carrying out this shocking attack.

"Mr Dobbin and his family have been through an unimaginable ordeal. I can only hope these verdicts bring some sense of justice for them."

During the trial at Basildon Crown Court, the jury heard that the attackers scouted out locations as they planned the attack in revenge for a fight earlier in the day in which Mr Dobbin, 44, had no involvement.

They ambushed a small group of Cambridge United supporters and during the violence Mr Dobbin was kicked and stamped on repeatedly.

All of the men have been remanded in custody to face sentencing on Monday.

Severe accident: M25 Greater London clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Greater London clockwise severe accident, between J29 for A127 and J30 for A13 Lakeside affecting J27 for M11.

M25 Greater London - Delays and queuing traffic on M25 clockwise between J29, A127 (Romford) and J30, A13 (Lakeside), because of an accident involving a lorry and a car earlier on. All lanes have been re-opened. Congestion on halfway to J27 M11.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Simon Dobbin attackers are 'hooligans', says lead officer

The police officer in charge of the investigation into the attack which left Simon Dobbin with brain damage, has called the thirteen men convicted "a pack of animals".

Earlier today, eight of those men were found guilty of violent disorder, alongside one man who had already pleaded guilty to the charge. Three men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, with one man found guilty of hiding the group.

Det Ch Insp Martin Passmore, from Essex Police, said the group "were not football fans".

"I think they're hooligans," he said.

"These are individuals that are mainly spending their time in pubs and drinking and looking for the opportunity to have fights with other so-called football fans/hooligans.

"I haven't seen any remorse in this case at all.

simon dobbin
Nicole Dobbin

"Whether some of them might have great regrets about what happened that night there's some indication perhaps from some of the telephone work that we've done that would indicate that, but you could also say that that's fear. That's fear of conviction. That's fear of being caught."

If it hadn't been down to thorough police work, the convicted men "would have been running off laughing," he said.

"They knew that an individual was going to be taken away into hospital and there was some concern also from some of them of how serious this actually was, and yet they can still send text messages about 'how proud I am' and 'how proud we are of what we've done' - it's just unbelievable."

M25 caravan recovered after overturning

The caravan which caused chaos on the M25 earlier was recovered about an hour after it overturned, closing two lanes of the road between the junctions for Waltham Abbey and north-east London.

View more on twitter

But with one lane still closed as they clear debris, Highways England is warning of delays well into the afternoon.

Simon Dobbin attack: Victim trending on Twitter

Adam Jinkerson

BBC Local Live

Since the verdict has come in to the attack on Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin, which found 13 men guilty of various offences, his name has been trending on Twitter across the United Kingdom.

Trending list

Wife of football hooliganism victim talks of a man 'trapped' in his body

The wife of Simon Dobbin has been reacting to the news that all 13 men charged with the football hooliganism that left her husband brain-damaged have been convicted of either violent disorder, conspiracy to commit violent disorder or assisting offenders.

Emily, Simon and Nicole Dobbin
Family Photo
Simon Dobbin with his daughter Emily and wife Nicole

Nicole Dobbin said it has been "heartbreaking" watching CCTV footage shown to the court of her husband dancing and singing in the background because he will never be able to do that again.

"Simon was always the life and soul of a party, he was very family orientated, we did everything together, the only times we didn't socialise is when he was at a football match or we were at work, otherwise we were always together. We don't have that anymore and we will never get that back."

Mrs Dobbin said her husband is aware of his friends and family, almost as if he is "trapped" in his body.

However, he cannot walk or talk and is fed through a tube.

He is linked to a suction machine, so he does not choke himself to death.

"I don't know how I've stayed strong," said Mrs Dobbin.

"There have been times when I lay in bed and think about the man I've lost, and the plans we had for the future will never happen, but hopefully we'll be able to make new plans."

Defendants in the Simon Dobbin football hooliganism trial
Artist's impression of the defendants at Basildon Crown Court

She urged those who go to football matches to "cause trouble", to think twice.

"In my eyes, I'm lucky I've still got Simon, obviously not the way he is, we're not lucky about that, but the next person, one punch can kill," she said.

Simon Dobbin attack: The verdicts

Thirteen men have been convicted over an attack on Simon Dobbin, a Cambridge United fan from Mildenhall, in Suffolk.

The men, who are all Southend United fans, were found guilty of various charges in relation to the attack, which happened in Southend in March 2015 following a football match.

Simon Dobbin

Eight men were found guilty of violent disorder, alongside Rhys Pullen, 21, of Wickford, who had already admitted the charge:

  • Ryan Carter, 21, of York Road, Southend
  • Jamie Chambers, 24, of Coleman Street, Southend
  • Lewis Courtnell, 34, of Stadium Road, Southend
  • Scott Nicholls, 40, of Little Spenders, Basildon
  • Matthew Petchey, 26, of Lascelles Gardens, Rochford
  • Thomas Randall, 22, of Seaforth Avenue, Southend
  • Alexander Woods, 25, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff
  • James Woods, 25, of Fairmead Avenue, Westcliff

Three men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit violent disorder:

  • Greg Allen, 29, of Western Avenue, Westcliff
  • Phil McGill, 32, of Hornby Avenue, Westcliff
  • Michael Shawyer, 31, of Belgrave Road, Leigh-on-Sea

Ian Young, 41, of Brightwell Avenue, Westcliff was found guilty of assisting an offender by hiding the group while police were conducting a search.

All thirteen have been remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on Monday, which will take place at Basildon Crown Court.

Mr Dobbin was not in attendance today but will be for the sentencing, the court heard.

The 44-year-old was left unable to walk or talk after the attack.

BreakingSimon Dobbin attack: Thirteen convicted over fan assault

Thirteen men have been convicted over an attack on a Cambridge United fan who was left unable to walk or talk after being assaulted.

Eight men were found guilty of violent disorder following a trial at Basildon Crown Court, with one other man admitting the charge earlier.

More to follow.

Caravan causing M25 chaos

An overturned caravan is causing delays on the M25 this lunchtime.

If you're stuck between junctions 26 for Waltham Abbey and 27 for north-east London and Stansted you'll know all about it.

View more on twitter

Two out of the four lanes clockwise have had to be closed off and Highways England says it could take about an hour to clear.

Map of M25
Highways England

Severe disruption: M25 Essex clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Essex clockwise severe disruption, between J26 for A121 and J27 for M11 affecting J25 for A10.

M25 Essex - Two lanes closed and slow traffic on M25 clockwise between J26, A121 (Waltham Abbey) and J27 M11, because of an overturned caravan. Congestion to J25, A10 (Enfield).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Aquaman meets the Incredible Hulk

It's serious gear for a serious job, but Essex Police's photograph did make us chuckle.

It's like Aquaman meets the Hulk (on the right)... and his mate, "specialist breathing equipment-man".

Essex Specials officers in safety gear
Essex Police

Actually, it's the force's Specials showing off some of the equipment they use to deal with some of the more unusual situations they'll be called on to attend in their new roles with the Operational Support Group.

Basildon boss bows out

The boss of Basildon Council is to step down after 13 years at the helm, we've just been told.

Bala Mahendran has been an "outstanding public servant to Basildon" in his longstanding role as chief executive, colleagues said, but he's decided to step down on 31st July.

The council's undergone some restructuring and a review of senior management posts is on the cards.

Bala Mahendran
Basildon Council

Mr Mahendran said he'd been "reflecting on my own career and future" for some time.

"I cannot overstate how proud I am to have held the post for so long, indeed as the longest serving chief executive Basildon has ever had."

During his time as chief executive he said the council had achieved a number of notable successes including working with schools to improve exam results, regenerating Pitsea town centre and investing £39m to develop the Sporting Village which is an "Olympic-standard facility [that] "has left a legacy of sporting success".

Basildon Council

Simon Dobbin attack: Jury told majority verdict will be accepted

A jury at Basildon Crown Court has been told a majority verdict will be accepted rather than a unanimous verdict in the trial of 13 men accused of conspiring to commit violent disorder.

The group of Southend United fans were charged over an attack on Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin, who was left unable to walk or talk after being assaulted in Southend in 2015.

Judge Pugh said he would accept a majority verdict from the jury if at least 10 of its members were in agreement. The jury has been deliberating for 17 hours.

Jury resumes its deliberations in the Simon Dobbin football hooliganism trial

Jurors have returned to Basildon Crown Court to resume their deliberations in the trial of 13 men who deny violence charges in connection with football hooliganism offences.

It follows the attack on Simon Dobbin, a Cambridge United fan from Mildenhall, who was left brain-damaged after the incident in Southend following a match at Roots Hall in March 2015.

Jurors have to consider 24 verdicts on charges of either violent disorder or conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

They've been out since Monday afternoon.

Emily, Simon and Nicole Dobbin
Family photo
Simon Dobbin with his daughter Emily and wife Nicole

'Discomfort' with police using social media to name-and-shame drunk drivers

There's been mixed reaction to Essex Police's policy of publishing photos of convicted drink or drug-drivers on social media.

The force said 107 people were arrested on suspicion of such offences in June and 11 mugshots of convicted offenders have been posted on Twitter or Facebook.

View more on twitter

Rob Lyons, from the Institute of Ideas, said: "I feel uncomfortable about this for what I regard as a relatively minor offence, especially when you haven't set out to do it.

"It reinforces a certain obsession with drink-driving, which is misplaced when you look at the figures."

However, Lynda Carr, from Romford who son Alvin was killed by a drunk driver in 1995, agrees with the publicity.

"They go out and they kill someone and they do a short prison sentence and it's not publicised," she said.

"If you don't want to be named and shamed, don't drink and drive or take drugs and drive."

Nick Freeman, a solicitor with Freeman & Co., said: "It's a gallery of shame and I don't think it should be confined to road traffic offences.

"As long as it's post-conviction, it's a positive deterrent, it's part of the punishment and it's really just an extension of the freedom of the press."

Lollipop ladies 'could be parking enforcers'

East Anglian Daily Times

The Essex edition of the EADT reports that "Councillor suggests it may attract more people to the job".

View more on twitter

Off-duty policemen were 'argumentative and belligerent' during hotel party row

Essex Police have said the dismissal of one officer and a severe warning for another followed an hour of rowdy behaviour when they were off-duty at a hotel in Norwich.

PC Jason Munns was sacked, while PC Luke Salmon was given a final written warning by a police conduct panel yesterday.

Norwich Travelodge

The Colchester-based officers had been at a Travelodge for a colleague's hen party in June last year, when they got into a row about their behaviour with hotel staff and Norfolk Police were called.

After yesterday's hearing, Essex's Ch Supt Rachel Nolan said their behaviour fell "well below" the standards expected of serving officers.

She said: "The officers did not comply with warnings from hotel staff, then on police attendance, were argumentative and belligerent, disputing points of law.

"Both identified themselves as Essex Police officers during the incident, which lasted for more than an hour on a Friday night.

"Whilst both officers have apologised, the public rightly expect police officers to display high standards of behaviour whether on or off duty."

Simon Dobbin trial: Jury to resume deliberations for a fifth day

Jurors are about to enter a fifth day of deliberations at the trial of 13 men accused of football hooliganism offences which left a Cambridge United fan with brain damage.

Simon Dobbin and Cambridge United fans
Dobbin Family

Simon Dobbin, who lives in Mildenhall in Suffolk, was attacked by a group of men outside a pub near Southend United's ground in March 2015.

He has been unable to walk or talk since.

Thirteen men have been charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder which they deny, while 12 have been charged with violent disorder, of which 11 pleaded not guilty, while one man admitted it.

The jury retired to consider its verdicts on Monday afternoon and so far they've been discussing the verdicts for 14 hours.

They are due back at Basildon Crown Court at 10:15.

Video: Weather forecast

Lucy Martin

BBC Weather

Early showers will give way to a dry day with temperatures peaking at 20C (68F) across the BBC East region.

The weekend will also be mostly dry, but cloudy.

Here's my full forecast:

For a more detailed forecast where you are, visit BBC Weather.

Good morning

Andrew Woodger

BBC News

Our regular updates are resuming on BBC Local Live, so stay with us for the news, sport, weather, travel and more.

We're still awaiting the jury's verdicts in the trial of 13 men accused of football hooliganism offences which left Cambridge United fan Simon Dobbin with brain damage after a match at Southend.

If you've got any stories or pictures you'd like to share with us, please use the "Get involved" button at the top of this page.

Severe disruption: M25 Kent anti-clockwise

BBC News Travel

M25 Kent anti-clockwise severe disruption, between J1A for A282 and J31 for A1306 Arterial Road West Thurrock.

M25 Kent - Two lanes closed on M25 anticlockwise between J1a, A282 (Swanscombe) and J31 A1306 Arterial Road West Thurrock.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Steven Finn

Phil Cartwright

BBC Sport

England bowler Steven Finn hits the winning runs as Middlesex beat Surrey by one wicket in the T20 Blast at Lord's.

Read more

Your live coverage for today

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

That's it for today from your Local Live team - thanks for your company.

We'll be back from 08:00 tomorrow to do it all again.

Take a minute to scroll down through the news feed to see if you've missed anything today.

And don't forget you can get in touch - just click on the Get Involved button at the top of the page.

In the meantime we'll leave you with this lovely whispy sky over Boxted taken by our Weather Watcher Nik. I spy a hint of a circumzenithal arc (upside down rainbow)?

Have a lovely evening.

BBC Weather Watchers

Record numbers call Crimestoppers in Essex

Orla Moore

BBC Local Live

The independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers received a record number of reports from the Essex public over the last 12 months - achieving the highest percentage increase across the country.

In the year to March 2017, the contact centre handled more than 4,200 Essex reports - a 44% increase on the year before.

Crimestoppers encourages people to pass on information about crime anonymously on 0800 555 111. There's also an online form that's non-traceable.

Chair of Crimestoppers in Essex, Stuart Rawlins, said: "Just one small piece of information that could appear insignificant may be the key to enabling the police to complete their investigations and lead to an arrest and charge being made."


The highest number of reports were for drugs offences and driving offences, information about wanted individuals, assault or harassment, theft and possession of weapons.

Overnight weather: Milder with some showers later

Alex Dolan

BBC Look East weather

This evening cloud will continue to develop from the north bringing the small chance of an isolated shower.

Overnight another band of showers will cross the BBC East region during the early hours.

It'll be milder than last night, with lows of 12C (54F).

Friday's weather map

Friday will be mainly dry but rather cloudy, with the chance of a further isolated shower.

Feeling cooler with highs of 19C (66F).

Get a full forecast where you live from BBC Weather.

Noise from night flights at Heathrow to be cut

Getty Images

Noise from night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be cut in a new crackdown, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

Mr Grayling has confirmed a series of measures to reduce noise at the three London airports, including new quotas on the number of flights and a lower noise limit at Heathrow and Gatwick. In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Grayling said: "I am fully aware that noise is a major concern for those living near these airports, and that night noise is widely regarded as the most disturbing impact of aviation.

"While advances in new technology mean that aircraft are generally getting quieter, the limits governing night noise at these airports has not kept pace with these developments.

"The new rules we are publishing today will encourage the use of quieter aircraft at all three airports by reducing the amount of noise these airports are legally allowed to make, and will give local residents a five-year guarantee about the level of noise that they will be exposed to."