Wednesday 27 November 2013, 12:09 | By Andy Malt
Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins pleads guilty to child sexual abuse charges
Appearing in court in Cardiff yesterday at the start of formal proceedings in his trial for sexual offences, former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins changed his plea at the last minute to guilty on thirteen on the 24 charges against him. He had previously “furiously denied” all of the charges, claiming he had been set up.
As previously reported, Watkins was arrested last December and has been held in custody awaiting trial ever since along with two female accomplices, as it turns out the mothers of the two child victims, which means they cannot be named. Amongst the charges Watkins admitted to were two counts of attempting to rape an eleven month old baby and conspiring to rape another similarly aged child. His co-defendants, seemingly fans of Watkins’ band, admitted to sexually abusing their own children at the musician’s behest.
Described as “a determined and committed paedophile” by prosecutor Christopher Clee, Watkins also admitted to sexually assaulting a child under the age of thirteen, aiding and abetting a female co-defendant to sexually assault a child under the age of thirteen, various charges of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photographs of children (dating back as far as 2007), and possessing “extreme pornography” involving a person and an animal.
Speaking on his behalf, the singer’s barrister, Sally O’Neill QC, said that her client insists that he “cannot remember” attempting to rape the baby, being under the influence of drugs at the time, though it was the conclusion of a series of similarly sinister activities that he did seem to recall orchestrating. Evidence amassed by prosecutors included messages sent between him and a co-defendant referring to past activities with Watkins concluding that he now wished to “cross the line”.
The key piece of evidence in the case, though, was harrowing video footage of the attempted rape Watkins claimed to not remember, discovered by police in a cloud storage account operated by the singer. Prosecutors accepted Watkins’ guilty plea for attempted rather than actual rape, conceding that it wasn’t clear from the video footage what exactly occurred during the incident, while noting that, given the scale of the crime, whether the attempt was successful or not was almost irrelevant.
The prosecution also admitted that concerns about the impact the footage could have on the trial’s jury had been taken into account when they decided to accept Watkins’ guilty pleas, and to not proceed with the case in a bid to pursue the other specific charges made against the singer.
Describing the actions of Watkins and his co-defendants as “the most shocking and harrowing child abuse evidence I’ve ever seen”, DCI Peter Doyle of South Wales Police said in a statement: “There is no doubt in my mind that Ian Watkins exploited his celebrity status in order to abuse young children. Today’s outcome ensures that the three people responsible have been brought to justice”.
He added that the investigation into Watkins will continue, as police “work tirelessly to identify any other victims or witnesses and seek the justice they deserve”.
The other members of Lostprophets have sensibly made few comments about the charges against their former bandmate since he was first arrested, except to tell fans that they were learning about Watkins’ crimes at the same time as the wider public, and later to confirm that they did not intend to continue recording or performing under the Lostprophets name. Though, after yesterday’s court proceedings, the band’s guitarist Lee Gaze expressed relief on Twitter that the matter had been resolved much more quickly than expected.
All three defendants will be sentenced on 18 Dec.