The Roma supporter who was on trial for the assault of Meath man Sean Cox has been sentenced to three years in prison, despite being found not guilty of grievous bodily harm.
Filippo Lombardi (21) was not found not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the 53-year-old Irishman. After a nine hour deliberation, the jury came back with a majority decision clearing the Italian of the charge.
However, he was sentenced to the three year prison term after pleading guilty to a separate charge of violent disorder.
He was sentenced at Preston Crown Court today.
Mr. Lombardi pleaded 'not guilty' to the attack on the 53-year-old Irishman, which occurred outside Anfield ahead of the Champions League clash of Liverpool and Roma on April 26th.
The prosecution in the case had claimed that Mr. Lombardi lashed out at Mr. Cox with a belt, after another man had knocked him to the ground with a punch.
Mr. Lombardi claimed that he had wrapped his belt around his hand to "protect himself" from "aggressive" Liverpool fans. He told the court, "I saw a few Liverpool fans who started to tell me something. They weren’t friendly and for that reason I understand, it could be a dangerous situation so I took off my belt and wrapped it around my hand."
He demonstrated to the jury how he swung his belt in a sidewards motion, adding, "I saw Sean Cox at the end of my movement, he was lying on the ground, this is the first time that I saw him."
Judge Mark Brown, who sentenced Lombardi for violent disorder did not accept his version of events.
Judge says he does NOT accept Lombardi was not there to cause trouble. Judge says he came out with his belt in his hand. It flies in the face of common sense to say he wasn't there to cause trouble. Judge doesn't accept that Lombardi didn't have key role in the violent disorder.
— Órla O'Donnell (@Orlaodo) October 18, 2018
Sean Cox suffered a severe and traumatic brain injury on the night in question, spending five weeks at a specialist neurological centre in Liverpool as a result.
He is still unable to speak or sit up unaided, and is currently undergoing further treatment in Ireland.
In August, another Italian man, Daniel Sciusco (29), received a two-and-a-half year sentence for violent disorder for his involvement in the incident.