Bognor Regis man denies murder charge in court

A Bognor Regis man pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mark Stoakes, who died after an arson attack, when he appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court this week.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 10:02 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 10:04 am

Aaron Wilks, 38, was arrested following an arson attack in the garden of Mr Stoakes’ home in Oak Grove, Bognor Regis, on April 8.

The victim, aged 60, was taken to hospital shortly after the incident and died of serious burns three weeks later on April 30.

Wilks also pleaded not guilty to charges of blackmail and application of explosive substance with intent.

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He admitted charges of arson, property damage and possession of a bladed article.

Appearing in court yesterday (Wednesday), Mr Stoakes’ wife Karen Stoakes said Wilks squirted the two of them with a flammable substance from a squeegee bottle, which he set light to.

Mr Stoakes, she said, pushed her out of the way before he was set alight himself.

Dominic Negus, a family friend who was visiting when the attack started, claimed to see a shadowy figure wielding a makeshift ‘flamethrower’ comprised of a blowtorch in one hand and a bottle of lighter fuel in the other.

The trial continues and is expected to last three weeks.