Assault shame of role model

A MAN used as a role model by The Prince's Trust has been handed a suspended jail sentence after admitting launching an unprovoked assault in an Ipswich club.

Tom Potter

A MAN used as a role model by The Prince's Trust has been handed a suspended jail sentence after admitting launching an unprovoked assault in an Ipswich club.

Lee Corani, of St George's Street, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a man at a nightclub.

The father of two, who served a three month prison sentence in his early twenties for assault, was last October used by the trust as an example of what errant teenagers could achieve by joining its voluntary “Get into” programme and was given the opportunity to study in Spain with support from the trust.

The court was told by Lesla Small, prosecuting, that the trust: “put him out in front and said to other teenagers 'this is what you can aspire to be.'”

But in the early hours of March 22 Corani assaulted a man without any discernable motive after he had asked him whether a woman the victim was with was single.

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Lesla Small, prosecuting, said: “All the victim can remember after getting up from the sofa on which he was sitting was being in an ambulance with a cut to the right side of his head and gashes to his mouth.

“This was a totally unprovoked attack and the accused made no admission during a police interview.

“He said his mind was blank and that he couldn't recall how he got blood on his hands.”

District Judge David Cooper also sentenced him to a 24 week prison term, suspended for one year, and ordered that he be banned from all licensed pubs, clubs and restaurants during that period.

The attack happened at Pals bar in Ipswich.

Corani will however be allowed to enter both The Regent theatre and Corn Exchange, where he currently works, while obeying a three month curfew order which will keep him at his home address between 10pm and 6pm every day. He must also pay his victim �500 and cover �65 of court costs.

Judge Cooper said: “This was a frightful attack on a man who had done nothing to deserve it.

“I don't know how you thought it would assist you in getting to know a girl. Presumably it didn't.

“If I send you to prison you will lose your job and probably come out fit for nothing. It would be counter-productive.

“In many ways you have improved yourself and fought hard against the odds. Had you not done so, prison would be inevitable.”

Following the court case, Mr Corani said: “What happened, happened,” but turned down the opportunity to comment further.

A spokesman for The Prince's Trust said: “The Trust works hard to give young people a chance to turn their lives around. More than three in four young people on our schemes go into work, training and education.”

- Should people who carry out violent crimes go straight to prison? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

To coincide with a visit to Ipswich by Prince Charles last December, The Evening Star's sister paper, The East Anglian Daily Times, featured four examples of young people in programmes run by The Prince's Trust.

Lee Corani was highlighted as one of those advised to join the trust's Get Into Construction programme, to help him find employment after completing a prison sentence for assault.

Corani said in the interview that The Prince's Trust had turned his life around, saying “The support from the trust has given me the confidence and motivation to get myself into work.”

He said that having a prison sentence on his CV made it harder to find a permanent job and admitted getting into the wrong crowd in his teenage years and drinking a lot with friends - a habit which he blamed for the assault which led to his conviction.

He said: “I regret what I was like back then. I was young and was being stupid by drinking too much.”

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