Published: 00:01, 22 March 2016
A man who repeatedly molested a teenage boy claiming it was “banter” has been spared a jail sentence.
Glynn Coomber, who previously worked for a catering company operating at Gillingham FC's Priestfield ground, was told by a judge it was “bullying and overbearing behaviour”, but he suspended a six-month sentence for 18 months.
Coomber, of Admiralty Terrace, Upnor, will be under supervision for a year and have to complete 220 hours unpaid work.
The 37-year-old father, who once ran his own restaurant and was a former head chef at the Jazz Bar in Maidstone, denied four charges of sexual assault.
He was convicted of three offences and acquitted of the other.
“You still maintain this was a type of banter. You still try to justify or excuse your behaviour. There is no place for bullying. It was persistent, offensive and disgraceful” - Judge Julian Smith
Coomber agreed he did not behave properly towards the victim but denied groping him in any way.
Maidstone Crown Court heard last month how the boy became distressed about Coomber touching his genitals and bottom and he told his mother.
Prosecutor Daniel Stephenson said Coomber sexually harassed the victim and assaulted him on several occasions.
When arrested, he said he might have touched the boy’s bottom accidentally and made comments in jest.
Peter Marshall, defending, said there had been a serious impact on Coomber and his family. He had lost his job at the club and had only worked occasionally since.
The offences involved immature behaviour, banter and a “laddish culture”. They did not involve sexual gratification.
“It is important for the court to acknowledge that what occurred was an aberration,” said Mr Marshall.
“It is out of character. He was a good man. He has acknowledged the error of his ways.”
Judge Julian Smith said he was prepared to accept there was no sexual motive in the offences.
“This was not predatory behaviour but rather a sexual joke which was intended to belittle, unsettle and bully him,” he continued.
“You still maintain this was a type of banter. You still try to justify or excuse your behaviour. There is no place for bullying. It was persistent, offensive and disgraceful.”
Coomber, whose name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for seven years, was ordered to pay £600 costs and an £80 statutory surcharge.