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Meopham man Joe Stokes jailed for jailed for scratching nickname on cell door

An arrested man who scratched his nickname on a cell door at a police station ended up being nicked for criminal damage.

Joe Stokes was said to have left his mark while he was "bored out of his mind" being held for four days in the confined space.

A judge said to his lawyer: "Did a bit of home decorating, did he?"

Joe Stokes was jailed for scratching his nickname on a cell door
Joe Stokes was jailed for scratching his nickname on a cell door

The 26-year-old was also facing an accusation of blackmail, but no evidence was offered on the charge when he appeared at Maidstone Crown Court.

Prosecutor Mary Jacobson said it was decided there was "no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction".

Stokes, of Carters Hill Lane, Meopham, admitted the criminal damage charge and was jailed for 21 days.

As he had spent a month on remand, he was due for release.

Miss Jacobson said a staple was used to scratch "STOKESY" on the back of the cell door.

“There is a photograph, however, it is not very clear,” she said.

Judge Julian Smith
Judge Julian Smith

“It is in capital letters in a vertical manner.”

Judge Julian Smith said: “It was a bit unnecessary, but it didn’t reduce the functionality of the cell.

"The reality is he has now served the equivalent of a two-month sentence.”

John Clifford, defending, told the judge: “Having been arrested, he spent four days in that cell. Quite simply, he was bored out of his mind.

“If every person was prosecuted for graffiti in the cells I imagine these courts would be overburdened.”

Judge Smith pointed out that such an offence would normally be dealt with in magistrates’ courts and prosecutions would follow if “anyone is daft enough to leave their own name”.

Mr Clifford said he was going to suggest a sentence of one day’s imprisonment, but the judge said: “I am not going to make it a day. People will wonder what that’s about.”

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

He told Stokes: “Four days in a cell doesn’t entitle you to redecorate. It is criminal damage. That will be marked on your record.”

As well as the prison sentence, Stokes was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115 within six months.

“How it is enforced is beyond me," admitted the judge.

Judge Smith refused an application to make a "non-conviction restraining order" regarding the discontinued blackmail charge.

Miss Jacobson said the order would ban Stokes going to the man’s home in Gladstone Road, Dartford, or contacting him in any way because there was a risk of harassment.

It was opposed by Mr Clifford, who said Stokes had never met the victim or spoken to him.

The judge warned that although he was refusing the application, if Stokes went near the victim he could be charged with revenge, which carried a maximum sentence of five years.

“It really isn’t worth it,” he added.

“Put this one down to experience.”

Another man has admitted blackmail and is facing sentence.

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