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Man says sorry for assaulting boy

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:56 02 July 2010

Richard Clapp at Norwich Magistrates' Court

Richard Clapp at Norwich Magistrates' Court

A cancer sufferer offered "heartfelt apologies" for assaulting a young boy and abandoning him and his friends in a cold and dark city car park.

A cancer sufferer offered “heartfelt apologies” for assaulting a young boy and abandoning him and his friends in a cold and dark city car park.

Richard Clapp claimed that his actions were due to his serious alcohol problems which followed his diagnosis.

Clapp, 39, from Desmond Drive in Norwich, took four boys aged eight to 11 on a trip to the Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square as a treat.

But during the film he drank an entire bottle of vodka and later argued with one of them in the lobby, holding him down on a sofa by his neck.

The schoolboy was then pushed onto the floor and suffered a bruised thigh.

After leaving the cinema the four refused to get into Mr Clapp's car because he was slurring his speech, stumbling and had fallen over.

Passers-by intervened when they heard the group arguing and Mr Clapp drove off, leaving the young boys alone in the Magdalen Street car park at around 8pm.

He was later seen driving erratically near his house before banging on his front door and demanding to be let in by his wife, Joanne Clapp.

She called the police as Mr Clapp smashed his way through the door and he was arrested and taken to Bethel Street police station.

When breathalysed he was found to be more than twice the legal drink-drive limit.

Mr Clapp, who is a trained aircraft engineer, claimed his behaviour was “totally out of character” and that he had reacted badly to a diagnosis of bone cancer in 2008 and taken to drink heavily.

“I've never done anything like that in my life, it just seemed to snowball after I came out of hospital,” he said.

“It was just like the cherry on the cake for me after the cancer.”

“Things just got a little out of hand.”

At Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday chairman of the bench, Dick Meadows, said that his behaviour in December had been “disgraceful” and handed down an 18-month community order, a three-year driving ban and ordered him to pay £50 compensation to the assaulted child.

Mr Clapp had pleaded guilty to driving while over the legal limit, four counts of neglect and assault of one of the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Damien Moore, defending, said that Mr Clapp recognised he had put the children through trauma, but that he had been using alcohol as a “coping mechanism” after his diagnosis.

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