Former Lostprophets lead singer is sentenced to 35 years for heinous child abuse crimes, but is this enough? By Sophie Evans
A select few know what it is like to go to sleep beloved by thousands across the world, and then to wake up to be reviled by even more. Ian Watkins, former lead singer of the popular rock band Lostprophets, is one of the few that has experienced this. In a case almost as prolific as that of Jimmy Saville, Watkins has been found guilty of a variety of shocking and brutal crimes, including both the attempted rape of a baby and the making of child abuse videos.
The extreme young ages of those that Watkins attacked have captured the public eye and generated intense disgust and hatred globally. Across the internet, fans and non-fans alike had been caught in debate surrounding the subject until Watkins confessed to the crimes in November this year. This sparked a surge in comments calling for biblical punishments, or a ‘taste of his own medicine’ to be delivered to him in prison. This has been opposed by some who disagree that justice ought to be carried out by criminals, but one feels that it is not necessarily a call for a replication of his crimes that these commenters seek, but rather a replication of his victim’s fear. After all, how can one repent without understanding, and how can one understand a crime of this nature without fear?
Watkins was previously the frontman of successful band Lostprophets, who toured globally and are famous for songs including ‘Last Train Home’ and ‘Rooftops’. Comments from his fellow bandmates are those of shock, they had no idea that these crimes were taking place, and sincerely regret Watkins using his platform as a renowned musician to target and attack young female fans, and later, their young children. The case, surprisingly, has not been detrimental to the sales of the band’s records. Their songs are still played and clips appear in news stories throughout developments in the case, with Watkins still entitled to royalties from all of these. Furthermore, the case has resulted in a spike in internet searches and record sales, which will add to the sum generated. Fans have expressed that they are unable to listen to the band without thinking of the atrocities that Watkins’ committed, but that they do not wish one man’s crimes to taint music they are so fond of, or to affect the careers of his unknowing bandmates.
Watkins’ crimes appear to have escalated; early attacks involved two 16-year old fans in 2006 and 2008, whereas in October 2012 he encouraged a female fan to abuse her own baby over Skype for his gratification, whilst planning a ‘summer of filthy child porn’ and conspiring to rape a baby. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Doyle, South Wales Police’s Senior Investigating Officer in the case, admitted that the case contained “the most shocking and harrowing child abuse evidence I have ever seen”. Thankfully, with Watkins pleading guilty, the jury was spared having to watch some of the disturbing video evidence spoken of in the media. It is also speculated that some evidence has been deemed too distressing to report. Given that the charge of attempted rape of a baby has been publicised, one wonders what could possibly be more distressing.
Celebrity status seems to have overtaken in this case, as it is mostly Watkins being focused upon in the media. However, perhaps more sinister than this rock star-turned-paedophile, are the two mothers simultaneously charged with 13 serious sexual offences between them. The fact that these women were capable of harming their own children, and giving them up to Watkins to abuse, reportedly so that they could know they were not loved, is almost beyond belief.
The defending barristers have argued that these were vulnerable young women, and that Watkins preyed on them, exposing them to drugs and exploiting their worship of him in order to get his own way. These children may, hopefully, be too young to remember this heinous abuse, and may now have the opportunity for a future that might have been denied to them had they remained with their abusive parents. However, although older victims may struggle to forget, they should be able to take solace in the capture and sentencing of Ian Watkins. Peaches Geldof was berated last year, when the arrests were first made, for posting the names of the female abusers on Twitter, arguing that she ‘assumed everybody knew who they were’. Their anonymity is not for their protection, but for that of the children, who this author hopes will never learn of their mothers’ crimes.
Watkins has been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for the crimes he has pleaded guilty to, without the possibility of parole for at least 22 years. The mothers of the abused children have received sentences of 14 and 17 years. It is unclear whether Watkins yet understands the gravity of his crimes. He is reported to have told a fan that he was not a paedophile and that he planned to release a statement on the day of his sentencing stating that his admission of guilt was ‘mega lolz’, an expression used by his former band on T-shirts. He is also reported to have said ‘Come on it was not that bad. Nobody got hurt’. His barrister maintains that this is bravado resulting from the distress that he is experiencing. The evidence against him, including possessing 24 child abuse images of the most severe category, is overwhelming.
The South Wales police are working with global organisations to uncover other crimes that they believe he has also committed in an investigation named Operation Globe. They urge anyone with information to contact them, reiterating that crimes of this severity will never go unpunished.