March 2021

Southam man jailed for trying to persuade a 14-year-old to take part in sexual activity

A man who had been shunned by his family since abusing children when he was in his 20s has been jailed after trying to persuade a 14-year-old to take part in sexual activity

Fortunately this time Arthur Stokes’s potential victim did not actually exist, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.

Stokes (58), of Southam, pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and two charges of attempted sexual communication with a child.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Prosecutor Suki Dhadda said that in January 2019 Stokes accessed an online dating site on which he made contact with two decoys using the names Lara and Sarah.

Despite being told that Lara was 13 and Sarah was 14, he continued to send them graphic messages and photos and asked to meet them for sex.

Stokes sent Sarah several explicit messages, and said he would travel to Leeds to meet her.

The police were informed by the people behind the decoy girls, and when Stokes was arrested the police found searches for Leeds B&Bs on his phone.

Miss Dhadda said: “Interviewed, he presented as having learning difficulties and had difficulty with reading and writing, but Your Honour will have seen the text messages he exchanged.”

Stokes, who had been convicted twice in the 1980s for indecently assaulting children, said he thought it was an over-18s dating site, and when told their ages he thought they were ‘joking around’ and that it was roleplay.

Simon Hunka, defending, said that in fact Stokes cannot read or write, and had used an app which turns what he says into a text, and the texts he receives into spoke words.

He said Stokes, who had an extremely low IQ, led ‘a sad existence,’ with his family having turned their backs on him after his early offences, and it was ‘a source of sadness that he was never reconciled with his siblings before they died.’

Mr Hunka added that Stokes, who accepts he has a problem, lived ‘an isolated existence,’ spending every day watching TV on his own apart from going to the shops early in the day to avoid meeting people.

Jailing Stokes, Recorder Jacob Hallam QC told him: “I have to sentence you for offences which you believed involved you making contact with girls at the beginning of their teenage years.

“Your contact has been described as engaging them in highly sexualised language.

“Even though you find the written word beyond your understanding, you were able to overcome those problems to send messages of an overtly sexual nature.

“What you were seeking was actual sexual contact with people you believed to be teenage girls.

“Thankfully it was offending which did not in fact involve the corruption and sexualisation of young children.”