Ian Watkins: Former Lostprophets frontman 'used hidden prison phone to contact female fan'

Sex offender told police he had been forced to conceal phone in anus by fellow inmates

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 06 August 2019 08:26 BST
Ian Watkins: Former Lostprophets frontman 'used hidden prison phone to contact female fan'

Former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins used a concealed mobile phone to contact a former fan illegally from prison, a court has heard.

Leeds Crown Court was told that the 42-year-old hid the phone inside his anus after using it to contact a woman he previously had a relationship with.

Watkins, who is serving a long sentence for sexual offences, produced the 8cm long GT-Star in March 2018 after a strip search at HMP Wakefield.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood said officers had received intelligence that the former singer had an illicit phone but initially found nothing.

They left him on a 15-minute watch, when Watkins asked an officer if he would still be allowed to see his mother, who was travelling to visit him.

“He reached in his underwear towards his anus,” Mr Wood told the jury. "After about 10 seconds the defendant produced a small white telephone.

“You will understand that this must have been inserted into his anus.”

Mr Wood said a small charger was later found in Watkins' cell.

Jurors were given the miniature phone to inspect in a protective bag after they were reassured that it was “well packaged” by judge Rodney Jameson.

Watkins denies one charge of possession of a mobile phone in a prison and told police he was being forced to conceal the device by fellow inmates.

Mr Wood said: “He said his life had been threatened. He told police he had been threatened with being slashed.”

The court head that Watkins described those he said threatened him as “serious guys” and said the mobile was a “wing phone”.

Watkins told police that other prisoners wanted him to call “his groupies” and get them to send money, and said he was “really f***ing scared”.

Mr Wood said the prosecution will argue that Watkins was not acting under duress.

He told the court that the phone had been used to contact a woman called Gabriella Persson, who alerted prison staff.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, said she had known Watkins from when she was 19 and a fan of Lostprophets.

Ian Watkins was the frontman of the Lostprophets

She confirmed she had been in a relationship with Watkins but stopped contacting him in 2012, before communicating with the defendant again in 2016 through letters, phone calls and via legitimate prison emails.

Ms Persson told the jury she received a text in March 2018 from a number she did not recognise saying: “Hi Gabriella-ella,-ella-eh-eh-eh.”

The witness said the message was a reference to the song Umbrella, by Rihanna, and had been used by Watkins before.

When she asked who was messaging her, she received the reply: “It's the devil on your shoulder.”

Ms Persson said the next message read: “I'm trusting you massively with this.”

She told the court she then then spoke to Watkins using the phone number to make sure it was him.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Gareth Burrows, Ms Persson said there had been only two voice calls using that phone and denied speaking to anyone else using that number.

She said none of the messages concerned money and Watkins was not threatening.

Ms Persson said she deleted all the text messages because she was scared she would get into trouble.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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