Roma supporter found not guilty of serious assault on Liverpool fan Sean Cox
Roma supporter Filippo Lombardi, 21, has been found not guilty at Preston Crown Court of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Liverpool fan Sean Cox, 53, from Co Meath, Ireland, in an attack outside Anfield ahead of the Champions League semi-final on April 26.
Filippo Lombardi, 21, from Rome denied inflicting grievous bodily harm on Irish father-of-three Sean Cox.
The 53-year-old suffered "catastrophic injuries" when he was assaulted before the Champions League semi-final.
The trial, which began last Thursday, heard Lombardi arrived at the ground after walking from Liverpool Lime Street train station with a group of 20 to 30 Roma supporters.
Footage taken on Walton Breck Road, which was full of Liverpool supporters ahead of the game, appeared to show Lombardi swinging his belt in the direction of Mr Cox, who was standing with his brother Martin.
Lombardi, who had an Italian interpreter in court but gave most of his evidence in English, claimed he had taken his belt off because he became lost and feared he was walking into a dangerous situation among Liverpool fans outside the ground.
He said a man standing behind Martin Cox said something to him about a fight and he swung the belt at him to get him away but did not notice Sean Cox until he saw him lying on the ground.
In her closing speech, Alison Gurden, defending, said: "You don't have to be certain that what Mr Lombardi has said is accurate, you just have to effectively have doubt in your mind as to whether prosecution have proved this case."
The court heard Lombardi was a university student working at a debt recovery call centre and has no history of being involved in football-related violence.
Lombardi admitted a separate charge of violent disorder and said he made a "mistake" when he became involved in a fight following the assault on Mr Cox.
Mr Cox, from Dunboyne, Co Meath, suffered a severe, traumatic brain injury in the attack and is still unable to talk or sit up unaided, the jury has been told.
About half a dozen members of his family, including his wife Martina, attended the trial in England.