March 2012

Margate carpet cleaner spared jail over sex offences

A SORDID pervert who admitted groping, flashing and asking a teenage girl to show him her breasts has been spared jail, to the anger of his victims.

Judge Adele Williams imposed a three year community order on 54-year-old Stephen Bromfield, nicknamed Captain Rugwash after a carpet cleaning company he ran, for three sex offences at Canterbury Crown Court.

But after the hearing, one of Bromfield’s victims said he should have been jailed immediately.

“We are not happy,” she said. “Some of us are still suffering because of him. The judge should have sent him straight to prison.”

Bromfield had pleaded guilty to indecent assault, sexual activity with a child and indecent exposure at an earlier hearing.

Alongside the community order, Judge Williams ordered Bromfield, formerly of Leslie Avenue, Garlinge, to take a course to address his sex problems.

She put him under a 7pm-to-7am curfew for three months and ordered him to pay £800 in legal costs.

The former- boss of the Big For Men clothing shop in Margate was made the subject of a Sex Offences Prevention Order banning him from working anywhere where he would come in contact with children under 16.

On sentencing, Judge Williams criticised Bromfield’s claims that he was in fact the victim.

“You may regard yourself as a victim but you most certainly are not. That is absurd,” she told him. 

She said he had “behaved as a sexual predator” and that he had to recognise that it was his own behaviour that had created victims.

“You ignored the alarm and distress that your behaviour was causing your victims,” Judge Williams added.

Bromfield’s behaviour was said to have changed after his wife began suffering from health problems. At a caravan in Monkton he tried to grope the breasts of a woman he had sent explicit text messages to.

Prosecuting, Danny Robinson said the woman reacted by kicking out at him and slapping his face.

On another occasion he asked a teenager girl to show him her breasts.

Initially he claimed his victims were lying when they reported what had happened but later admitted their allegations were true.

The court heard how Bromfield downed pain killers and alcohol in a suicide attempt when the matters came to a head.

Defending, Janine Sheff said Bromfield had spent three months in hospital receiving psychiatric treatment and that after a life-time of self-employed work he was now unemployed.

She said he had also been the subject of harassment on internet sites because of publicity given to his court appearances.