Lostprophets' Ian Watkins groomed before baby abuse

Artist's impression of Ian Watkins in court
Image caption Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins accepted he was a 'determined and committed paedophile'

Ian Watkins is likely to have used his celebrity to groom women in order to gain access to their children who he subjected to a series of sex offences.

The singer of Welsh rock band Lostprophets changed his plea to guilty to "depraved" child sex offences including attempted rape of a baby.

The 36-year-old from Pontypridd, and two women in their 20s, had been due to stand trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Helen Whittle from the National Crime Agency described his case as unusual.

"It's likely that someone with celebrity status will use that to gain access to individuals and a route into grooming behaviour," she said.

"It is quite unusual but unfortunately we are seeing a trend over the last few years of very young children being victimised in these images.

"While it's not the norm from our perspective, it is a reality."

Det Ch Insp Peter Doyle, of South Wales Police's specialist crime investigations team, said there was "no doubt" in his mind that Watkins exploited his celebrity status in order to abuse young children.

Watkins was due to stand trial having previously "furiously denied" the allegations against him claiming he was the "victim of a malicious campaign" but changed his pleas on Tuesday.

Image caption Helen Whittle said it was likely Watkins had tried to make sexual abuse of children appear 'normalised'

He admitted attempted rape and sexual assault of a child under 13 but not guilty to rape - which was accepted by the prosecution.

The court also heard the two women involved sexually abused their own children and made them available to Watkins for him to abuse.

Ms Whittle added: "It's likely that those mothers would have been groomed by the offender to commit the abuse, but without the motivation to sexually abuse a child it's unlikely they would have taken it that far.

"It's likely the offender has normalised the sexual abuse of children, has rationalised it, minimised it for these females, and therefore the psychological barriers that had stopped those females abusing in the past were then eroded and they took the steps of abusing the children."

She said research showed that 90% of child sex offenders knew they were interested in children when they were developing sexually at around the ages of 14 to 16.

And it is unlikely that someone who has had that motivation and interest since their teenage years has only just started offending in their adult life, the research found.

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