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A keen golfer, 65-year-old Tappin was enjoying his retirement and role as president of the Kent County Golf Union, which represents the county's 95 clubs.
His passion for golf is something he shares with son Neil, who is deputy editor of Golf Monthly magazine.
But a US sting operation that led to Tappin being accused of selling batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran shattered the Tappin family's apparently idyllic lives.
After a two-year legal battle, the retired businessman was extradited to Texas to stand trial.
The grandfather is said to have kept himself sane by practising golf, using his walking stick as a club and rolled-up tissues as a ball.
Tappin was given a reprieve from the windowless walls when he was released on bail in April.
Before his plea bargain agreement, Tappin had denied attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.
He was originally thought to have faced up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.
His guilty plea, to one count of the indictment, calls for a 33-month sentence which prosecutors have said they will not oppose him serving back in the UK.
Extradited Briton Christopher Tappin will be sentenced today for arms dealing after striking a deal with US prosecutors.
Tappin, 66, pleaded guilty last year to one count of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defence articles and faces a 33-month sentence under a so-called plea bargain.
US District Judge David Briones is expected to formally approve the plea deal at a court hearing in El Paso, Texas, at 11pm local time (6pm GMT).