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Man admits sexually assaulting police officer after abusing staff in Norwich Co-op

PUBLISHED: 16:11 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:50 01 March 2019

Mark Sutcliffe leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh

Mark Sutcliffe leaving Norwich Magistrates Court. PIC: Peter Walsh

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A man in a wheelchair sexually assaulted a police officer after they were called when he became abusive in a Norwich shop, a court has heard.

Mark Sutcliffe, 56, had been in the Co-op store in Heyford Road, Norwich, when he started causing staff a problem.

Norwich Magistrates Court heard the defendant had picked up a number of items, including a litre bottle of vodka.

Wayne Ablett, prosecuting, said the goods were worth £46.62, and Sutcliffe attempted to pay by throwing “a number of £5 notes” at staff.

But he was £6.62 short and was told he could not leave without paying.

Mr Ablett said Sutcliffe started to drink the vodka and then became aggressive and made sexual comments towards staff.

Police tried to speak to Sutcliffe at the back of the shop from which he is now banned.

But he continued to be abusive and grabbed hold of one of the officers before grabbing a female officer in the chest area over her body armour.

Sutcliffe later did this a second time to the officer but swore at her when she told him not to touch her.

The defendant, who is in a wheelchair after he was hit by a car when he was 21, refused the offer of a taxi to the police investigation centre and was taken in a police van.

Sutcliffe, of Bryony Close, Norwich, appeared in court on Friday (March 1) when he admitted sexual assault on a female on February 4 this year.

He also pleaded guilty to common assault on an emergency worker, using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment alarm or distress and theft from a shop on the same date.

Gavin Cowe, mitigating, said he accepts he was “very foolish to behave as he did” and was “ashamed of his actions”.

Mr Cowe said he had drunk half a bottle of vodka and could not recall what had happened.

He said Sutcliffe’s behaviour was not premeditated or planned but could not give an explanation.

Mr Cowe said it was alcohol that explains “pretty much the entire set of offences” and asked magistrates to bear that in mind.

He said the sexual assault was the most serious matter but was “very brief” and not something that was likely to go any further.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until April 3 so reports could be obtained.

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