Man, 33, sentenced as part of Op Antigua Abington Street investigation
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A 33-year-old man has been jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to sexually abusing underage girls in Northampton.
The investigation into Joseph Martin James Arnold, previously of Ashcroft Gardens, Northampton, formed part of Northamptonshire Police’s ongoing Operation Antigua.
Op Antigua was launched at the end of June 2020 and focuses on reported sexual abuse between the years of 2006 and 2016, all originating from the statue in Abington Street where young people would gather.
Since then, multiple people have come forward to report offences against them including three young women who Arnold sexually abused when they were underage.
One of the girls was only 13-years-old when she met a 23-year-old Arnold and engaged in what she believed at the time to be a two-year consensual relationship.
During this time, Arnold sexually abused her on multiple occasions, isolated her from family members, and manipulated her into developing low self-esteem.
“He would make me feel really insecure and that people didn’t like me very much,” she wrote in her victim personal statement which was read out at court yesterday (November 30).
“At school I didn’t really speak to people as I didn’t think anyone would like me because of how Joe had made me feel about myself.
“Whenever I see anyone or anything with the name Joseph or Arnold in it now, even the news, it brings up everything to do with him, things that have happened, or about the case.”
A second woman was aged 15 when she entered into what she believed at the time was a consensual relationship with Arnold who was 19-years-old at the time.
“Joseph was a master manipulator,” she wrote in her statement. “He made me feel so destroyed and defeated. He got away with his abuse for so long. I realise now I have a right to feel upset.
“I feel like he took my childhood and my teenage years away and destroyed them.”
A third woman was aged 16 when a 21-year-old Arnold lured her back to his house on the promise of a “party”. However, when she got there it became clear he wanted it to be just the two of them and used the evening as an opportunity to sexually assault her.
“Joe was someone who just hung around with the same group of people I did on Abington Street. He made me feel special, older and cool, when in fact I was being groomed. I realise this now that I am older, when reflecting on what happened.
“He completely took advantage of my innocence.”
The investigation into Arnold led to him being charged with six counts of sexual activity with a girl aged 13-15, and one count of sexual assault, all of which he pleaded guilty to at an earlier court hearing at Northampton Crown Court in September.
Yesterday (November 30) at the same court, he was sentenced to nine years in prison and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Speaking outside of court after sentencing, Detective Inspector Liz Basham who leads Operation Antigua said: “Today, these three brave women have got justice for what Joseph Arnold did to them.
“Although nothing can ever take away what they suffered at his hands, I hope that the result today will give them some closure.
“When we launched Operation Antigua, we made it clear how committed we were to investigating all of the reports that were made to us, and I am pleased that we have achieved a number of charges, convictions and years in prison since.
“I want to thank the investigative team who have worked tirelessly on the operation, with particular thanks to DS Colin Bowers - the officer in charge of the investigation, and DC Hayley Reed who has been supporting the victims during this very difficult time.
“I hope this case and the operation as a whole demonstrates our ongoing determination as a police force to investigate sexual abuse and bring those responsible to justice.”
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, whether recent or non-recent, please come forward by calling 101 or via the online reporting tool at www.northants.police.uk.
We will believe you.
If you have been a victim of a sexual abuse but are not yet ready to speak to the police, please visit www.voicenorthants.org or call Voice on 0300 303 1965.
Voice is a support service for anyone living in Northamptonshire, regardless of when, where or how crime happened to you. Services are free, confidential and you don’t have to have reported anything to the police.
*This press release has been released with the support and agreement of the survivors*