Man who groomed child using dating apps jailed following Met investigation

A man who used dating apps and social media to groom a 14-year-old child before sexually abusing him has been jailed following an extensive Met investigation triggered by one piece of information from one informant.

George Watkins, 31, (13.10.92) of 25 Sunbower Avenue, Dunstable pleaded guilty at Wood Green Crown Court on 25 January 2023 to 19 offences, including seven counts of Sexual Activity with a Child, three counts of Causing or Inciting Sexual Activity with a Child and one count of Sexual Communications with a Child.

He also pleaded guilty to five counts of Making Indecent Images of a Child, two counts of Taking Indecent Images of a Child and one count of Distributing Indecent Images of a Child.

He was sentenced at the same court yesterday, Thursday 26 October to 11 years imprisonment. He also received a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

DCI Hardeep Kaur formally of the Met’s Central North Command Unit said: “This investigation shows how the Met will relentlessly pursue those who commit sexual offences.

“Watkins arranged to meet boys, aged 14 and 16 years, whom he initially befriended on the Grindr app.

“The 14-year-old was sexually abused on seven different occasions, which Watkins covertly filmed and shared with others. The locations of this abuse included Watkins’ home address, an Air BnB and Watkins’ car.

“In order to facilitate this offending, Watkins engaged in sexual communications with the 14-year-old on social media. He also shared a video of himself sexually abusing the 14-year-old to another individual online.

“The 16-year-old was covertly filmed engaging in sexual activity with Watkins, which Watkins kept as a trophy for his own sexual gratification.

“Watkins also convinced the 16-year-old to commit and film sexual activity with a 13-year-old child in their own home, and to send the videos to him.

“In addition to these offences, a total of 457 indecent images of children, which Watkins appeared to have obtained online, were found across his devices.

“This case should be a warning to the public, and in particular young people, of the risk in using dating apps. Such apps and sites can be used by paedophiles like Watkins. They manipulate and lie to vulnerable girls and boys for their own sexual gratification and as a gateway to committing horrific sexual offences.”

The 16-year-old boy said in a statement which was read at court: “When I reflect upon what Watkins did to me, and the fact a paedophile who was in a position of trust exploited me during a vulnerable moment of my life, I feel completely used and taken advantage of. The entire experience just doesn’t sit right with me mentally, and I feel physically sick just thinking about it.”

The 14-year-old boy said in his statement: “The fact that he used me for his own sexual gratification and did not seem to care about how I was doing at the time has made me feel used and exploited, and sub-human, as if my opinion did not matter at all.”

DS Jules Manock of the Met’s Central North Safeguarding Unit said: “Watkins displayed an extreme arrogance over the course of our investigation into him, and showed no remorse whatsoever. He used Grindr and social media to seek out young males who were gay but had not come out to their own families. Watkins used his charm, confidence and skills as a secondary school teacher to obtain the trust of these boys.

“He repeatedly sexually abused a 14-year-old boy, taking away his childhood and filming this for his own sick gratification. Watkins thought he would get away with his vile and depraved acts. An extensive police investigation and above all the bravery of the victim-survivors helped to ensure that he was proven wrong.”

DC Stefan Wimmer of the Met’s Central North Safeguarding Unit said: “The charges which Watkins has pleaded guilty to are a product of our thorough and relentless investigation, all of which began with one piece of information from one informant.

“In January 2019, the informant went into their local police station to report that Watkins had shared an explicit image of them without their consent and appeared to have a predilection for males under the age of 16. We then carried out a thorough investigation into Watkins’ offending, involving three search warrants, five premises searches, and five interviews with Watkins. We also made painstaking efforts to go through each of his devices to gather evidence.

“Watkins was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, capable of winning the trust of vulnerable children in order to fulfil his disgusting, disturbing and despicable intentions towards them. It is the presence of individuals of this sort in society that reminds me of why I am employed as a police officer.”

It became quickly apparent that Watkins posed an immense risk to the public due to his ability to manipulate and ultimately deceive others, and due to his working as a teacher at a private secondary school in North London. As such, a number of measures were used to maintain control of him, including work with partner agencies, the termination of his employment, and bail conditions following his initial arrest on 4 July 2019.

In order to obtain even greater control of Watkins, he was initially arrested and charged with 27 counts of Making Indecent Images of Children, to which he pleaded guilty on 21 April 2021. He was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on 29 July 2021 to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also granted for seven years. The investigation into Watkins continued, resulting in the further charges for which he has now been sentenced.

DC Wimmer added: “I am aware that the victim-survivors want their experiences to be a warning to other young people, so I am sharing their message: Please take great care when interacting with people online, and ask yourself: which precautions am I taking to protect myself? Who exactly am I speaking to? And how trustworthy are they in actual fact?

“Please remember that dating apps are designed for adults and are not a safe space for young people to discover sex and sexuality.”

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