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Beaten-up Norwich man's family call for witnesses

Michael Clay back home from hospital with his family, father Gershom, sisters Sylvia and Sandra and brother-in-law Mick, after he was hospitalised when he was beaten up in the Stores pub on Dereham road, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay

Michael Clay back home from hospital with his family, father Gershom, sisters Sylvia and Sandra and brother-in-law Mick, after he was hospitalised when he was beaten up in the Stores pub on Dereham road, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

The family of a man left without speech or memory after being assaulted in a Norwich pub have today issued a heartfelt plea for witnesses to come forward to help catch his attacker.

Michael Clay, 58, was enjoying a quiet drink at a bar in Dereham Road in November last year when he was punched in the head by a fellow customer.

He suffered a broken jaw and a brain haemorrhage and later had a stroke during an operation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Now back at home he is not well enough to go out on his own and must always carry an identity card in case he gets lost or needs help.

The former lorry driver, who is single, has been told he cannot drive again for another 12 months, if ever, might never recover his memory, and will never fully regain his speech.

Speaking from the home he shares with his 89-year-old father Gershom Clay, off Dereham Road, his family said their lives had been turned upside down by the tragedy.

Brother-in-law Michael Maloney said: “His father used to be the one that the family had to help, but there’s been a role reversal and now it’s Michael.

“Effectively he has lost the skills that the rest of us take for granted. He cannot go out on his own or do his shopping.

“He cannot answer the phone or read a book. He doesn’t really understand what we are saying and we cannot understand him. He watches TV but we don’t know how much of it he is taking in.

“He is on medication to help his brain heal. Doctors said that after something like this the brain shuts down for six months to heal, and it could be two years or never before it starts up again.

“We just want people with any information about what happened when he was attacked to get in touch with the police. I cannot see how anyone who knows something can live with themselves and not come forward, knowing what has happened to Michael.”

Mr Maloney said that before the assault Mr Clay was a fit and normal man who used to walk everywhere and enjoyed exotic holidays to places such as Barbados.

He added: “He cannot remember what happened in the attack or in hospital.

“Doctors told us that he will never fully regain his speech and must have speech therapy. His memory might come back, but he has to return to Addenbrooke’s for a check-up next month.”

However, the family said that it could have been worse.

Mr Maloney added: “We are lucky to be sitting here with him today. If not for the surgeons, then it could have been a murder inquiry.”

The incident happened between 12.50am and 12.55am on Sunday, November 6 at the Stores. Mr Clay was at the bar having a drink when he was approached by another man.

He was punched in the face, knocked to the floor, and lost consciousness as a result of the incident. He was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment after initially being taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. He stayed about a month in hospital and then came back to the Caroline House convalescent home in Norwich.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “We would like to speak to anyone who still believes they may have information to help us to establish the full circumstances around what happened that evening. No matter how insignificant it may seem we would still encourage them to make contact.”

A 20-year-old man from the Norwich area has been arrested in connection with the incident. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Det Sgt Nigel Gillick at Norwich CID on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Are you recovering from an assault in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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