Child sex offender hid dark secret from Leeds family

A sex offender who had contact with children over a five month period after befriending a young family has been sent to prison.

By Tony Gardner
Saturday, 25th January 2020, 11:45 am

Mark Watson was locked up for two years after a court heard how he defied a court order banning him from having contact with youngsters and from going near children's playgrounds and parks.

Leeds Crown Court heard Watson, 37, has previous convictions for sex offences against children.

Carmel Pearson, prosecuting, said Watson was given a custodial sentence in 2000 for indecently assaulting children.

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Mark Watson hid his child sex convictions from family who he befriended

West Yorkshire Police made a successful application for a sexual offences prevention order in 2009 which prohibited him from a range of activities involving children.

The order prevented him from contacting anyone under the age of 18 or allowing anyone aged under 18 into his home.

The order also banned him from going to children's playgrounds.

Watson was jailed in 2011 for breaching the order. He breached the order for a second time in 2013.

The defendant's latest offending came to light after he told his probation officer that he had befriended a woman who had a young family.

The woman was contacted by police and confirmed that Watson had become friends with her family after he introduced himself.

She went on describe how she and her partner had visited Watson's flat with their children and shared food.

On another occasion he went with the family to a park and held the hand of one of the children as they walked there.

The woman told police she would not have allowed Watson near her children had she known about his criminal record.

Watson, of Westbourne Street, Beeston, pleaded guilty to breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

At the time of the offending he was also on licence for an offence of arson.

Michael Walsh, mitigating, said Watson pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage and the offending only came to light because of the admissions he made to his probation officer.

He said: "If he had not disclosed it this would not have come to light.

"He showed more insight in to the problems that he was causing than many others, although he did not show enough insight to realise that he should not have been doing it in the first place."

Sentencing Watson, Recorder Simon Eckersley said: "The family indicated that you befriended them rather than the other way around.

"You introduced yourself and must have known that it was a family and would have known you should not have any contact with them.

"This was a five-month period where there was multiple contact with the family.

"You went to their address and they went to yours and there was physical contact on more than one occasion

"This was a persistent, flagrant breach. You knew what you should and shouldn't do."