[ NEWS | EVENTS - HERTS / LONDON | VIDEOS | APPEALS ]

Three teenage football thugs have been given custodial sentences over a "devastating" unprovoked attack on a rival fan, leaving him with a life-changing brain injury.

9th September 2016

Wolves supporters Joe Wood, 15, Connor Pearson, 16, and Joseph Lister, 19, were among five defendants sentenced over the brutal attack on Watford fan Nic Cruwys

Wood and Pearson can be named for the first time today after Wolverhampton Crown Court lifted reporting restrictions preventing the media from naming them, ruling that the public interest outweighed their interests as juveniles.

The court heard that he tried to get away from the group after they started shouting at him near Littles Lane but he fell over and was repeatedly punched and kicked as he lay unconscious on the ground. 

Nic was taken to New Cross Hospital and then transferred to the QE in Birmingham where he was found to have a fractured skull and a bleed to the brain.

The judge also passed non-custodial sentences on two other defendants, Robert Beech and Ryan Meer, for public order offences.

A sixth, Daniel Lloyd, will be sentenced at a later date.

The sentences were welcomed by the family of Mr Cruwys as they thanked police witnesses who helped the investigation, "We are delighted that the people involved have been charged and hope that the verdict reflects the injuries Nic suffered and our family’s pain and suffering caused by their mindless actions," the family said.

The court had heard that Mr Cruwys, a father of two, spent three weeks in a coma after being attacked in the city as he made his way from Molineux Stadium to the railway station following a match in March last year.

Mr Cruwys was knocked out as he fell to the ground following a punch, and was then stamped on and kicked three times despite being unconscious.

Pain and suffering

Mr Cruwys suffered serious brain injuries and was in a coma for three months following the "unprovoked violent attack", the trial heard.

He had travelled by train with friends to watch the match, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The attack happened as they made their way back to the city's train station and planned to visit a pub for a drink.

David Lee, prosecuting, described it as "an unprovoked group attack", adding the defendants were "going in a gang to that area to look for trouble, which they found and caused".

Detective Sergeant Adam Keen, from West Midlands Force CID, said: "We are pleased with today’s sentencings and hope that the end of this case will bring some comfort to Nic and his family.

"Nic is continuing to receive regular treatment to help him recover from what happened. It was an appalling, unprovoked assault that has left lasting damage.

"During the course of the investigation we made several appeals to the public for information and received dozens of calls which have helped us to secure these convictions. I want to thank everyone who came forward and assisted us."

Nic’s family added: "We would like to say a huge thank you to West Midlands Police for their extensive work and support we have received over the past 17 months. Also, to those who came forward to assist the police and gave evidence during the trial.

"Although Nic will never fully recover, we are now hoping to try and move on with our lives and try and put the horrific situation behind us."

In July, Nic gave a gilmpse into his recovery more than a year after the attack.

“Everyone says to me that I look fine but they don’t really know what is going on up here in my head,” Nic told WD sport .

“I do find that a little bit hard. I have good days and bad days. There have been days where I can’t even be bothered to get out of bed.

"I can’t be bothered to have a shower. It is just a big effort to do that because I feel I don’t have anything to get up for in the mornings, because I don’t have a job and I can't drive.

"I miss driving massively. I miss being able to do the school run.

"I just want to be normal again.”