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Canterbury Tesco Express axe man Benjamin Clapp bites brave security guard praised by judge

By Sean Axtell

An axe swinging thief sunk his teeth into a Tesco security guard who wrestled him to the floor.

Benjamin Clapp exploded into a tornado of death threats then wielded the weapon when staff caught him pinching six beers and cheap snacks.

When Clapp swung the deadly weapon, courageous security guard Colin Petrie disarmed the would-be-thief and took the fight to the floor.

Benjamin Clapp (9196096)
Benjamin Clapp (9196096)

Screaming “I’ll kill your family”, the 38-year-old bit Mr Petrie’s leg, drawing blood after smashing his glasses when he punched his face.

Clapp continued trying to bite Mr Petrie but was restrained until police arrived at Canterbury’s New Dover Road store on April 10.

Judge Simon James yesterday (Monday, June 24) put forward Mr Petrie for the High Sheriff of Kent Award for Bravery.

The Tesco Express in New Dover Road (12941289)
The Tesco Express in New Dover Road (12941289)

Convicted of three counts of threatening a person with an offensive weapon, two counts of theft and one assault, Clapp was jailed for 40 months.

Canterbury Crown Court heard Clapp, of no fixed abode, first brandished the axe in St Dunstan’s Londis while escaping after being caught stealing £48 worth of scratch cards.

An hour later, Mr Petrie and a colleague saw him stealing £12.47 worth of booze and food from their Tesco Express, store and then confronted him.

Londis in St Dunstan's Street (12941304)
Londis in St Dunstan's Street (12941304)

Prosecutor Amy Nicholson explained how Clapp threatened them with the axe “then started swinging.”

After he was restrained, Clapp began trying to fight police, she added.

Phil Rowley, mitigating, said Clapp, who suffers anxiety and depression, had sought mental health therapy while on remand in custody.

'I'll kill your family' - Benjamin Clapp

A combination of Clapp’s low moods and addiction triggered the string of crimes, he said.

But Judge James labelled the crimes “robbery with a different name” and “escalating” criminal behaviour.

He said they were a “culmination” of Clapp’s previous crimes, which include a number of assaults, theft, and racial harassment.

Judge Simon James
Judge Simon James

“However, it is to you credit you have some insight and have started to seek help while in custody,” the judge said.

“You may go down now.”

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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