A predatory paedophile who abducted a 10-year-old girl and then raped her, demonstrated an “inconceivable level of evil,” a judge has said.
Jason Watts, who is a father himself, snatched the girl while she was playing with friends near their home in Northampton on August 29, in an incident described as “every parent’s worst nightmare.”
He then took her to a house in Arundel Street, Semilong, where he punched her in the face, restrained her by putting his hand over her mouth, threatened to strangle her and then raped her. The ordeal lasted at least two and a half hours.
Earlier the same day, Watts, aged 32, had groomed the victim and her brother by giving the boy a chocolate egg, before returning in the afternoon to snatch the girl.
Some of the evidence heard in Northampton Crown Court yesterday was too distressing to report, and caused members of the victim’s family to leave the public gallery in tears.
Watts, dressed scruffily with a long, unkempt beard, sat in the dock flanked by five security guards. He showed no emotion at any stage of the hearing, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of seven years and two months.
He had previously admitted charges of kidnapping and rape at the same court on November 8, despite claiming to have no memory of the attack.
The court heard the attack happened in a house of multiple occupancy, owned by the drug, alcohol and homelessness support charity CAN, and only stopped when another resident disturbed Watts.
Describing the attack, prosecuting barrister, Matthew Lowe, said: “He started counting to five and then he punched her in the face, causing her head to hit a wall. He pulled her hair to stop her leaving the house.
“He told her to shut up or he would strangle her. It was a deliberate precursor to what was about to happen.”
Mr Lowe had previously outlined the events of the day leading up to the rape.
He said: “This case is every parent and child’s worst nightmare.
“Throughout the majority of the day, the victim and her siblings were outside playing, and their mother was frequently checking up on them.
“In the morning, the victim and her brother were approached by this defendant and he brought her brother a Kinder egg.
“In the afternoon, at about 2.45pm, the mother became aware that her daughter had disappeared. Panic understandably ensued and the police were called.
“The victim was eventually found in Grafton Street, with the defendant, who was arrested. When the victim was told she was safe, she started to cry.”
The court heard Watts smelt of alcohol when he was arrested, refused to co-operate with DNA tests and gave no response to any questions put to him by police.
He has 20 previous convictions for offences including violence, dishonesty and possession of Class A drugs.
Matthew Kirk, mitigating, said: “Not quite the only mitigation, but close to it, is his plea of guilty.
“He has emphasised the shame he feels for what he has done and expresses his shame and remorse to the court.”
Sentencing Watts, Judge Michael Fowler said: “These offences are horrific in themselves, but committed on a child of 10, demonstrate an inconceivable level of evil.
“That you have a child yourself makes it even more inconceivable. There was grooming of the victim and her brother as they played in a park near their home. You were clearly observing them.
“You took her some distance before you detained and raped her. You claim to have no recollection of the day and I find that hard to believe.
“The victim impact statement makes for harrowing reading, and the long-term consequences must remain open to speculation.”
Judge Fowler also praised the “dignity” of the victim’s family, who were present in the public gallery throughout the hearing. They have since moved out of the address.
The end of the minimum term is the first possible point of the sentence when Watts can be considered for parole. He will not be released if he is still considered to be a risk to the public.
He will be on the Sex Offender’s Register for life and has been banned from any contact with children aged under 16.