A Daventry man killed himself just days after being arrested by police on suspicion of grooming an underage person online and then trying to meet them for sex.
Michael Parkes, 46 and from Hemans Road in Daventry, killed himself on the Welton Road on June 1 last year after being arrested on suspicion of grooming a 12-year-old online and then driving to Coventry to meet them.
An inquest held in Northampton yesterday (Wednesday) heard how Mr Parkes had suffered from a number of episodes of stress and anxiety in the past, for which he had been prescribed medication.
His brother, Richard Parkes, told the inquest that in the days before his death: “Michael had contact from the police, which was deeply upsetting for him, and I feel that this even had an effect on his mind and was a contributing factor to the action he took.”
In tribute, he added: “Michael was an outgoing person and always ready to help others.”
At around 1pm on June 1 emergency services were called to the Welton Road to reports of a car fire. On arriving they discovered Mr Parkes inside the vehicle with a ligature around his neck.
He was declared dead at the scene.
Mr Parkes believed he had been talking to a 12-year-old online, but in fact it was a self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’ known as Stinson Hunter.
Hunter had posed as the young person, and when he met Parkes he filmed the encounter, passed information onto Warwickshire Police, and posted the video online.
Senior Coroner Anne Pember recorded that Mr Parkes killed himself.
Following the inquest, Northamptonshire Police have released a statement.
A police spokesman said: “We offer our condolences to the family of Michael Parkes who have been through a difficult time.
“We have a duty to investigate and respond to child abuse allegations. A decision to arrest Parkes was made when it became clear from the material supplied to us that he believed the age of the person he was in communication with was 12 years old. It is also clear that Parkes drove to Coventry with the intention of engaging in sexual activity with a child.
“In the light of Parkes’s subsequent death, a thorough review was carried out and it is clear that it would have passed the threshold test and that Northamptonshire Police would have sought a CPS charging decision.
“Northamptonshire Police do not condone or support the actions of Stinson Hunter. Identifying alleged paedophiles is best left to the police and suspected incidences of online grooming should be reported to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
“The police and other law enforcement agencies work closely together with partners to protect children from abuse and exploitation, and provide empathetic and professional support. We would encourage anyone who is suffering abuse or who is concerned about someone who may be, to contact the police, their local authority, or one of the following confidential agencies: Childline on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk; or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or www.nspcc.org.uk.”