Wednesday 22 October 2014

Paedophile Watkins refused appeal

Published 23/07/2014 | 13:24

Ian Watkins has had his appeal bid against his sentence turned down

Paedophile and former Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins has been told he cannot appeal against the length of his 29-year jail term imposed for a string of child sex offences.

Lawyers for the disgraced rock star claimed he should have his jail term cut because his last-minute guilty plea spared a jury from having to watch his home-made child pornography.

However the Court of Appeal, sitting in Cardiff, turned down his application for leave for an appeal, with presiding judge Lord Justice Pitchford saying: "These were offences against infant children of such shocking depravity that a very lengthy sentence of imprisonment was demanded.

"It is not demonstrated the total sentence of 29 years together with the extended licence period was arguably manifestly excessive. Accordingly, the application in his case is refused."

Among the disturbing videos due to be shown at his trial included his attempted rape of a baby and a webcam chat in which he instructed a crazed fan to abuse her child.

Sally O'Neill QC, for Watkins, 37, said that "by pleading guilty my client averted the need for a most distressing and unpleasant trial for all those concerned, especially a jury".

Watkins was given 14- and 15-year consecutive prison terms for engaging in sexual activity with a child and the attempted rape of an 11-month-old baby.

He was also convicted of 11 other offences - with those sentences running alongside his 29-year term.

Lord Justice Pitchford also said sentencing judge Mr Justice Royce could have handed Watkins consecutive prison terms for two charges relating to the defendant making indecent images of children.

Watkins had denied all the charges against him when he was first arrested in December 2012 and even issued a statement saying he would "fight to the end" to clear his name.

However, just after a jury had been chosen for his trial, he changed his plea to the guilty.

The appeal court heard that Watkins had protested his innocence because he "refused to acknowledge" what he had done.

Among the offences he pleaded guilty to were the attempted rape of an 11-month-old child and encouraging a fan to abuse her baby via webcam.

Simon Smith, for the woman, said she had lived her life "through fantasy" and suffered from a personality disorder.

She was also refused leave to appeal against her 17-year jail sentence by the judges.

Watkins' appeal was launched on the grounds he was not given enough discount for his guilty plea and his sentence was too high.

Ms O'Neill said: "I am not trying to minimise the gravity of these offences, just simply make the observation that a sense of proportion needs to be maintained.

"These offences, however bad, are not the worst."

But the Court of Appeal upheld the original sentence carried out by Mr Justice Royce who had described Watkins as a dangerous sexual predator.

Watkins will have to serve at least 16 years and 10 months before he can be considered for parole.

He will also remain on the sex offenders register for life.

Watkins was not present at the hearing and also chose not to appear from HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire via video-link.

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