Life sentence for Bognor Regis murderer who set fire to 60-year-old man

The killer of 'much-loved family man' Mark Stoakes was sentenced to life imprisonment today.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th December 2021, 5:34 pm

Aaron Wilks, unemployed of Ash Grove, Bognor Regis, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of husband and father Mark Stoakes, aged 60, Portsmouth Crown Court heard today (December 16).

Wilks was also found guilty of blackmail, arson, criminal damage and possession of a bladed article, crimes for which he will serve concurrent sentences of six years, 30 months, 21 months and 20 months respectively.

The 38-year-old visited the Stoakes family home on the evening of April 8 and torched their garden gate. When Mr and Mr Stoakes challenged him, he doused both in petrol and set Mr Stoakes on fire before fleeing the scene. Mr Stoakes died of his injuries three weeks later, on April 30.

Aatron Wilks has been sentenced to life imprisonment

Wilks will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before he becomes eligible for parole. If he is released on parole, he remains on licence for the rest of his life, the terms of which he must abide or risk facing recall to prison.

"The (Stoakes) family are devastated," judge HHJ Mousley said in his closing remarks. "Mark was a much-loved family man. The family still have to live with the memory of what they witnessed.

"The premature and unnecessary loss of a father, husband and grandfather is unbearable. Very often, to a daughter, your father is your best friend and that is what Mark Stoakes was to Charlotte and Paige."

Speaking directly to Wilks, and responding to the defence's suggestion that Wilks felt 'deep remorse' for his crimes, the judge said: "You have shown little emotion, let alone deep remorse. The only real way for you to have shown remorse would have been to plead guilty to murder."

The court also heard readings of victim statements from Mr Stoakes' family, including his wife Karen and his two daughters Paige and Charlotte.

"Mark was not just my husband, he was my best friend," Mrs Stoakes' statement read. "He was my carer as well because I have got a back problem. Mark helped anybody and everybody. I just miss him so much."

Youngest daughter Paige Stoakes added: "Every time I walk home from work and go around the corner I remember he is not there any more. He will never watch me grow up, have children or pass my driving test.

"I miss him so much it hurts."

The victim's family have asked to "live in peace and be left alone," now that the trial is over.

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