‘Coercive and controlling’ man jailed for offences against women in Southwick and Portslade

A man who abused two women in Southwick and Portslade when they were in relationships with him has been given prison sentences totalling three years and four months, police said.

Sam Bridgeham, 33, a building labourer, of Wallhouse Road, Erith, South East London, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Friday 4 February, confirmed police.

He had pleaded guilty to coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate relationship with a Southwick woman, according to police.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

He had also been found to have breached on four occasions a court-issued non-molestation which ordered him to stay away from a Portslade woman, said police.

Sam Bridgeham, 33, has been sentenced. Photo: Sussex Police

Bridgeham was given a sentence of 25 months for the coercive control offence and 15 months for breaching the non-molestation order, confirmed police.

He was also given a four-year Restraining Order prohibiting him from contact with the victim of his coercive and controlling behaviour.

Police said Bridgeham pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing actual bodily harm to the Southwick victim which was not proceeded with at court and will lay on the court file.

‘A series of distressing incidents’

Detective Constable Greg Brown of Worthing Investigations said; “Bridgeham gradually increased the emotional pressure on his then-partner, starting off by calling her abusive names and constantly criticising her; then he monitored her phone calls and social media; asked her to take pictures and send them to him to confirm her location; messaged her friends to monitor where she was; put on a fake accent and made threatening phone calls to her family; made fake calls to police to get them to attend her address in the middle of the night; sent numerous calls and messages from withheld or new numbers; left flowers at her door, refusing to accept the relationship was over; he made her feel like she was crazy and badly damaged her relationship with her family.

“Eventually, in June 2018, after yet another series of distressing incidents, she terminated the relationship and has had the courage which we very much admire, to see through his prosecution.

“This case illustrates the impact that this type of vicious behaviour can have on the victim in the long term, degrading self-esteem with the potential to make the victim a shell of their former self.

“In this case the victim said that for a long time her whole life was spent trying to please Bridgeham.”

DC Brown said the case showed that people do not need to suffer in silence.

He said: “Help is at hand if you contact us.

“We can investigate and can also ensure you have protection and access to specialist sources of advice and support.

“If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship like this, contact us at any time online or by calling 101, and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced detectives.

“But if you are feeling threatened or are in fear now, call 999.”

For sources of further information and advice about domestic abuse see the Sussex Police website.