Lostprophets sex offender Ian Watkins claimed Wakefield Prison inmates hatched plan to extort cash from his "groupies"

Lostprophets sex offender Ian Watkins claimed prisoners planned to extort money from his "groupies" when he was caught with a mobile phone at Wakefield jail.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 17:23 pm
Ian Watkins

A court heard Watkins told police that inmates at the maximum security prison had threatened to kill him unless he agreed to join in the deception and contact fans from his cell.

The 42-year-old former front man of rock group Lostprophets is on trial at Leeds Crown Court where he is accused of possessing a mobile phone in prison.The prosecution claim Watkins used the phone to contact an ex-girlfriend and other women from HMP Wakefield between March 4-10 last year.

A transcript of Watkins' interview with police after his arrest was read to the jury on the second day of the trial.

Ian Watkins

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Watkins initially answered no comment to questions asked of him.

He then told the officers: “I have constantly been a target.

“I have been threatened with my life, being slashed. . .I really don’t know how to handle it.

“They are forcing me to hold this phone.”

Wakefield Prison

Watkins told the officers that the prisoners who had threatened him were “flooding” the jail with mobile phones.

The defendant told the police that he had been ordered to use the phone to contact his “groupies”.

He said: “They want me to go around calling the girls and all the people I know and the fans and to get all their money.

“They tell me to contact each one because once I had done it they had their numbers on their phone.”

Leeds Crown Court

Watkins told the officers that the men threatening him intended to contact his fans and tell them they would kill him unless they paid them or gave them their bank details.

Watkins broke down in tears during the interview.

He told officers: “I’m just f****** really scared.”

The court also heard evidence from Tom Wheatley, the governor of Wakefield Prison.

Mr Wheatley said mobile phones are among the most serious contraband items in jails as they have the potential for inmates to commit further offences while in custody.

Gareth Burrows, Watkins' barrister, asked the governor if “bullying and taxing” takes place within the prison community where inmates are forced to hold mobile phones for others.

He replied: “That can happen, yes.”

The court heard hundreds of pages of letters from Watkins' fans were found during a search of his cell after the discovery of the mobile phone.

The phone was analysed and found to have been activated on February 28, 2018.

The same day, £20 of credit was put on the phone at a service station in Manchester.

A further £20 of credit was put on the phone on March 6 at a service station on Doncaster Road, Wakefield.

Police identified three numbers on the phone which were attributed to three women.

Those numbers were on a list of Approved Telephone Numbers (ATN) held by the prison which the defendant was allowed to contact.

Numbers attributed to four other women were recovered from the notes in Watkins’ cell.

One of the numbers was on a barred list which he was prohibited from contacting.

Prison records showed that, during the period of the alleged offending, Watkins was “unemployed and retired from gym”.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood said: “Save for visits he would have spent the majority of his time on his own locked in his cell.”

The trial continues