Sex offender jailed after contacting social media accounts operated by officers
Main article content
A sex offender who believed he was sending sexual messages to a 12-year-old girl has been jailed – after the account was actually being operated by undercover officers from West Midlands Police.
Lewis Watts, 26, of Saxelby Road, Melton Mowbray, is a registered sex offender. On 4 November last year, he began messaging a person he believed to be a 12-year-old girl on the social media platform Kik.
Messages were sent by Watts encouraging sexual activity and asking the “girl” to send images of sexual acts.
But the account was actually being operated by undercover officers, and the Leicestershire Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) were notified.
A number of conversations also took place between Watts and other similar accounts – but they too were also all being operated by officers.
The investigation team were able to track Watt’s account and on 22 December, POLIT officers attended a property in Asfordby, Melton Mowbray.
Later that day, Watts attended Keyham Lane Police Station where he was arrested and was subsequently charged with three counts of sexual communications with a child, attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and a breach of his sexual harm prevention order. He was remanded into custody.
Watts was due to stand trial at Leicester Crown Court but changed his plea to guilty shortly before the trial was due to start.
Yesterday (Monday 28 June) he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Detective Constable Glen Reid, from the POLIT team said: “This man is a serial offender and thanks to the detailed and dedicated work of officers from the Paedophile Online Investigation Team and West Midlands Police, we were able to identify Watt’s account and provide full proof of what his intentions were when he made contact with the decoy accounts.
“When officers carry out this work operating decoy accounts, this has to be done extremely sensitively and can have a huge impact on those officers who operate the accounts. But they are all highly trained in this area of work and ultimately do it to bring people such as Watts to justice and to help prevent harm being caused to vulnerable young children.
“We urge everyone to be vigilant when online and report any suspicious behaviour. We will take action on all reports we receive.”