Melton sex offender has jail sentence doubled by appeal court
A Melton sex offender has had his jail sentence doubled after his case was referred to the Court of Appeal.
Lewis Watts (26), formerly of Saxelby Road, was jailed in June for three years after admitting exchanging messages of a sexual nature with 12-year-old girls, who were being impersonated by undercover police officers.
Melton MP Alicia Kearns felt the sentence was too lenient, particularly since he had a previous history of offending, and she referred it for review to the Attorney General.
The Solicitor General, Rt Hon Lucy Frazer QC MP, then forwarded the case to the Court of Appeal under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
And yesterday (Wednesday), the Court found his sentence to be unduly lenient and increased it to six years and three months’ imprisonment.
Reacting to the hearing today, Mrs Kearns said: “I originally referred it because I simply could not see three years as an appropriate sentence for this serial paedophile.
“It’s right that the court doubled his sentence – and I’m grateful to Lucy Frazer QC, the Solicitor General, for backing me to the hilt, and referring the sentence.
“It’s extremely rare for a sentence to even be referred to the Court of Appeal.
“This is important for keeping the children and communities in Melton safe.”
The Solicitor General also welcomed the outcome commenting: “Watts’ intentions were deeply disturbing and designed to harm young children.
“The seriousness of his offending had to reflect the gravity of his criminal intentions.
“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal saw fit to increase his sentence.”
Watts engaged in sexual communication with three different 12-year-old girls via social media, including graphic messages inciting one of the girls to engage in sexual activity.
However, he was in fact communicating with undercover police officers in all three cases.
Watts was arrested and charged with three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
He was also charged with one count of attempting to cause or incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and of breaching an existing sexual harm prevention order.
As a result of his new offending, Watts had a sexual harm prevention order brought into force.
The Order was granted in 2015 following his conviction for three counts of possession of indecent photographs of children, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself to others.
Watts initially pleaded not guilty to the latest charges but changed his plea on the first day of the trial.
This ruling follows the decision by the Court of Appeal that where a defendant sets out to sexually abuse a child, in circumstances where the child in fact is an adult posing as a child, then the starting point for sentencing should be set by reference to the harm that the defendant intended to cause the fictional child.
The fact that there was no real child for the defendant to abuse will then be reflected in a downward movement from that starting point.
The extent of that reduction will be a matter for the court in individual cases to decide, but the seriousness of the offending must nonetheless be reflected in what the offender intended.