Jail for sports ‘role model’

Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - JA­SON EVANS ja­son.evans@waleson­line.co.uk

FORMER Maesteg RFC women’s player and Welsh in­ter­na­tional sportswoman Rhian Nokes has been jailed for abus­ing a girl af­ter dup­ing her into be­liev­ing she had can­cer.

A WELSH in­ter­na­tional sportswoman has been jailed for groom­ing and sex­u­ally abus­ing an un­der­age girl af­ter dup­ing her into be­liev­ing she had been di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal can­cer.

Rhian Nokes, a former Maesteg RFC and Cardiff City player, rep­re­sented Wales in both foot­ball and rugby and also vis­ited schools as a sports coach.

It was at one of those schools that she met a foot­ball-mad young­ster who looked up to her as a role model.

Nokes be­friended her but be­gan to spin a web of lies about hav­ing a brain tu­mour. The lie even saw her shav­ing her hair and fak­ing seizures to con­vince the girl of the tale.

She bom­barded her vic­tim with text mes­sages – send­ing around 12,000 in just a year.

And, in light of her false can­cer “se­cret”, Nokes per­suaded the teenager to touch her sex­u­ally.

On a num­ber of oc­ca­sions Nokes, who played for rugby side Maesteg Celtic, per­formed a sex act on the girl or got the girl to per­form a sex act on her.

The teenager sub­se­quently re­ported the abuse when she be­came con­cerned about the way Nokes was be­hav­ing to­wards an­other girl.

Nokes, 29, of Wes­ley Place, Taibach, Port Tal- bot, had al­ready pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual as­sault and in­cit­ing a child to en­gage in sexual ac­tiv­ity ahead of her sen­tenc­ing at Swansea Crown Court yes­ter­day.

In an im­pact state­ment read to the court by pros­e­cu­tor Catherine Richards, the vic­tim, who is now an adult, said Nokes had ma­nip­u­lated and con­trolled her, and taken away her child­hood.

She said: “When Rhian told me she was ter­mi­nally ill and had no-one else to turn to, I had noth­ing else on my mind but want­ing to be there for her, I felt like her only hope and sup­port mech­a­nism.”

She added: “I gave up ev­ery­thing for her be­cause she would in­form me that she was so ill she wouldn’t be here long...

“When Rhian con­firmed ev­ery­thing was a lie, it hurt more than words could ever de­scribe, but I guess at first I did not re­alise how se­ri­ous or cal­cu­lated the sit­u­a­tion was.”

Caro­line Rees, for Nokes, said a psy­cho­log­i­cal re­port into her client con­cluded she had suf­fered from feel­ings of iso­la­tion as a child and that she had never got over the grief of los­ing her grand­fa­ther.

The bar­ris­ter added: “She is sorry and she knows she did wrong.”

Judge Paul Thomas QC told the de­fen­dant she had groomed her vic­tim, “cal­cu­lat­ingly and me­thod­i­cally” de­ceiv­ing the girl to get sym­pa­thy.

Nokes was sen­tenced to a to­tal of seven years in prison, half of which she will serve in cus­tody be­fore be­ing re­leased on li­cence.

She was also made the sub­ject of sexual harm preven­tion or­der, and will be on the sex of­fend­ers’ register for life. Judge Thomas also made a re­strain­ing or­der ban­ning Nokes from con­tact­ing her vic­tim in­def­i­nitely.

She added: “Nokes ini­tially de­nied be­ing in­volved in a sexual re­la­tion­ship with the pupil. How­ever, as a re­sult of the brav­ery of the vic­tim giv­ing ev­i­dence at trial and over­whelm­ing tele­phone ev­i­dence to sup­port the pupil’s ac­count, she changed her plea to guilty to all the of­fences.”

Rhian Nokes from Port Tal­bot was sen­tenced to seven years for sex­u­ally abus­ing a girl she met while work­ing as foot­ball coach

Nokes played rugby and foot­ball for Wales women teams

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