A 75-year-old pervert who left six young women living in fear after bombarding them with sexually explicit phone calls and messages has been spared jail.
Pensioner Michael Bunce, from Marshall Crescent in Broadstairs, terrorised his victims for up to nine months by repeatedly calling them and saying he knew where they lived.
Magistrates were told during a hearing in Margate yesterday of how the married grandad’s lewd correspondence with the women – who did not know him – made them fear for their safety.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, one said: “I didn’t know who it was. The phone calls have caused me alarm, distress and harassment.
“The fact he’s brazen about his number makes me worried about what he is capable of.
“The situation has put me on edge. I have not wanted to work because I have not felt safe enough.”
The victims told the pest to stop contacting them – but he continued and, in some cases, sent indecent text messages.
Prosecutor Suzanne Soros told of how another of his victims felt like a “prisoner” in her own home and decided to buy an extra lock for her door and street-facing CCTV.
Ms Soros said Bunce made his victims believe “he was watching them and getting sexual gratification”.
Another woman said in her impact statement: “I have had to stop answering private number calls because I feared it was this man.
“I believe this man has randomly called my number as I’m a female.
“It’s clear that this male is getting sexually gratified [during the calls], no matter how this makes me feel.”
Ms Soros added that Bunce did not stop making the phone calls until the police tracked him down, even though “each and every one of the women told him to stop”.
But Steve Tarlton, defending, said his client was “clearly a very troubled man” since he suffered head trauma from a fall in 2014.
At a previous hearing, Bunce insisted he is “a good man” and blamed his actions on Parkinson’s medication he has been taking since his diagnosis six years ago.
Mr Tarlton said yesterday: “I was left wondering how a man of his age, with a lack of relevant previous convictions would leave himself in this situation.
“Life has been pretty tough [for Bunce] since 2014. That fall has led to the dementia, in addition to the Parkinson's.
“He’s clearly remorseful. I know it’s a cliché, but this was out of character.”
Mr Tarlton also read on Bunce’s behalf a letter in which the defendant, who has been married for 58 years, said he was disgusted by his actions and that “something has gone wrong” in his life.
The letter also noted that his actions had brought “shame and pain” on his family, and that his oldest son has not spoken to him since the incidents first came to light.
Bunce pleaded guilty to six charges of sending a communication or article of an indecent or offensive nature in October.
At the hearing yesterday, he was given a 120-day sentence suspended for two years and told to pay £200 to each of his victims.
"Let me assure you, if you do commit further offences, you will serve that sentence..."
Magistrates also placed a restraining order on Bunce, which prevents him from having any contact with one of the women for the next two years.
Chairman of the bench Robert Green said: “The calls were grossly offensive and degrading. You caused substantial distress to multiple victims.
“We take into account your remorse and full and frank accounts.
“Let me assure you, if you do commit further offences, you will serve that sentence. I hope that’s the very last we see of you in court.”
Before concluding the trial, Mr Green also paid tribute to the “spectacular police work” that went into catching Bunce.
'He was letting me know that he was watching me - I felt helpless'
One of Bunce's victims, a woman in her 20s from Whitstable, told KentOnline in October of how she felt helpless as the elderly pervert rang “relentlessly” and said he knew where she lived.
The sex pest told the mum that he knew where she lived and, on one occasion, he intimated that he saw her children leave her home moments before he called.
"Twenty times a night I used to wake thinking someone was knocking on the door,” she said.
“I was told I could block his calls but he was telling me he knew my address and when my kids had left. I felt like by answering the phone, it kept him away from my front door.
“He was letting me know that he was watching me. I felt helpless.”
After Bunce was arrested by detectives, she said he called her once more.
“He said he just wanted to tell me that he’s sorry. I replied that I’ll see him in court.
“He said, ‘would it make you horny to see me in court?’ He obviously isn’t sorry – he’s disgusting.”