Jan 2009

Gwent paedophile OAP deserved ‘mercy’

A pensioner who subjected little girls to a series of sex attacks over four decades escaped being jailed for a second time, after England and Wales’ top judge yesterday ruled that he deserved “mercy.”

Brian Watts, 72, of Sudbrook, Caldicot, abused half a dozen little girls during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and committed another offence at the start of the 1990s, London’s Criminal Appeal court heard.

However, after that last offence, he confessed his crimes to his GP and asked for help.

Medical treatment in hospital followed and Watts has not offended over the intervening 16 years.

His offences came to the attention of the police many years after the incidents and, after making full confessions, he was sentenced to a community order at Newport Crown Court on October 21 last year, following guilty pleas to numerous counts of indecent assault.

That sentence was attacked as “unduly lenient” by the nation’s top law officer, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, who referred his case to the Criminal Appeal Court for review.

Yesterday, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Pitchford and Mr Justice Roderick Evans, refused to send Watts to jail, saying that the merciful sentence was justified in the circumstances.

Lord Judge said: “He had not re-offended since 1992. It is not suggested that he (now) poses a danger to young children generally.

“The serious features of this case are obvious.

“But this sentence was imposed by a very experienced judge, who had considered every aspect of the offender and the offences before him, having reflected on the fact that he had made admissions and sought medical attention and that there had been no offending since.

“In the end, he imposed a non-custodial sentence on a 72-year-old man in poor health, the bulk of whose offending happened over 30 years ago and who had last offended 16 years earlier.

“A non-custodial sentence was within the discretion and the duty of the judge.

“If the sentence is to be regarded as merciful, then it should be observed that “mercy should seize on justice” is a proposition as soundly based in law as it is in literature.

“This application (to increase the sentence) is refused.”