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Ian Watkins: Former Lostprophets frontman 'feared his throat would be cut' if he refused to hide prison phone

Sex offender admits 'hoarding' letters from female fans that included sexual fantasies

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 07 August 2019 18:01 BST
Ian Watkins: Former Lostprophets frontman 'used hidden prison phone to contact female fan'

Former Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins has told a court he feared his throat would be cut if he did not hide a banned mobile phone in prison.

Watkins told Leeds Crown Court two men ordered him to look after the phone in March 2018 but refused to name them.

The 42-year-old said his fellow inmates at HMP Wakefield were “murderers and handy”, adding: “You would not want to mess with them.”

The court previously heard how Watkins, who is serving a long sentence for sexual offences, had concealed a miniature phone in his anus after using it to contact a female fan.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, the former singer claimed that he initially said he would not keep the device but was told: “If you don't you'll get taken out.”

Asked by his defence lawyer Gareth Burrows what he meant, Watkins replied: “Killed. Their MO is throat cutting.”

When Mr Burrows asked him whether he was prepared to name the men, Watkins told the jury: “No. I like my head on my body.”

The defendant said he knew who the phone belonged to but would not name him, describing him as a “top boy” and adding: “You know he can get to your family.”

“The chances are, without my knowledge, someone would sneak up behind me and cut my throat. It's not like one-on-one, let's have a fight,” Watkins said. “Stuff like that, you don't see it coming.”

Watkins told the court he still received large amounts of fanmail from women and the two men wanted him to “hook them up” to use them as a “revenue stream”.

He said he put some numbers in the phone for the two other prisoners, selecting people he thought would not cooperate or who were abroad and out of harm's way.

Asked why he did not tell prison staff, he said there was a rumour the prisoner who owned the phone had an officer bringing him things in from outside.

“Once you snitch in jail it just brings a world of trouble down on you,” he added.

Prison authorities were alerted that Watkins was using a phone by a woman who had known Watkins from when she was 19 and a fan of Lostprophets.

Gabriella Persson said 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.

She told the court Watkins texted her before they spoke on the phone in March 2018, and that none of the messages concerned money.

Ian Watkins told the court he still receives large amounts of fanmail (PA)

The former singer said he surrendered the phone following an unsuccessful strip-search because he was concerned about whether he would be allowed to see his parents, who were visiting.

Watkins he had found prison life ”challenging“ and was on medication for acute anxiety and situational depression.

Under questioning from his barrister, Watkins described how the Lostprophets had been successful, selling five to 10 million albums and playing large venues around the world, including Wembley Arena.

Stephen Wood, prosecuting, asked him: "Do you miss the adoration, do you miss the fans?"

The defendant replied: "We never did it for that. I miss music."

Watkins told the jury he received hundreds of page of letters, mostly from women, and that some included sexual fantasies.

He denied that was the reason he kept them, telling the jury: "I have always been a hoarder."

Watkins denies possessing a mobile phone in prison. The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA

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