AA GWENT man was jailed for 30 years for carrying out ‘a deviant and abhorrent’ campaign of sexual abuse against two children and threatening police officers with a nail gun in an armed siege.

Leslie Watkins, 48, of Penylan Road, Argoed, between Blackwood and Tredegar, appeared in Newport Crown Court for sentencing yesterday for a string of offences.

He appeared on three separate indictments, including a number of serious sexual attacks against a girl under 12, grave sexual abuse against a boy under seven and the attempted wounding and assault with intent to resist arrest against two police officers after an incident at a house in Argoed in December 2012.

Watkins became embroiled in an armed siege where he threatened the officers with a nail gun after he went on the run, failing to turn up to the last day of his trial in the case of sexual abuse against the girl.

He was convicted unanimously by a jury after a trial in October 2012 of four counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted rape against the girl.

He admitted two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault on the boy.

The court heard a doctor examined the boy and expressed concerns he had been sexually abused. The boy later confided in a trusted adult, telling them Watkins put on loud music to drown out his cries.

In 2010, the second victim repeated his complaints of sexual abuse to police saying he had never been able to talk about it and he needed closure.

Watkins was arrested on January 6, 2011 and denied committing any sexual offences against either victim.

When he failed to turn up to the final day of his trial, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Two Gwent Police officers visited a property in Argoed on December 5, 2012 after receiving information Watkins was hiding there and found him barricaded into one of the upstairs bedrooms.

When one of the officers tried to push the door open, Watkins shouted: “I’m going to ******* kill you” and shot an industrial nail gun through the closed door, leaving the six inch nail protruding at head height by about two inches.The police firearms unit was called and trained police negotiators tried to persuade Watkins to give himself up over the course of a ten-hour armed siege.

The court heard Watkins continued to threaten to injure others and himself before shooting himself in the chest with the gun.

Watkins pleaded guilty to attempted wounding and assault against the police officers with intent to resist arrest and the charges relating to the boy on Monday, the day which was meant to be the first day of his trial

In mitigation, Jonathan Rees said the defendant had previously witnessed sex abuse taking place at a young age, that he was depressed, self-harmed and had made several attempts to take his own life.

Judge Philip Richards told Watkins: “There are comparatively few cases which involve the depravity and disregard for basic human values as you have shown.”

He said the victims had been badly affected, and said the female victim “spoke in a heart-rending manner about the abuse she suffered at your hands”.

The judge added the case had been delayed repeatedly by Watkins’ behaviour, including refusing to eat and sacking his defence counsel.

He said: “Until yesterday your behaviour towards the court has been entirely cynical.

“Having observed you in court is it evident you demonstrate no remorse.”

Watkins was sentenced to 30 years in prison, of which he must serve half before he can be considered for release. He will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.

Officer in the case, Detective Sergeant Ginny Davies said: “Watkins is a dangerous and prolific offender who subjected his victims to horrendous abuse. His crimes have caused deep emotional and psychological effects, and I would like to pay tribute to them for their bravery in coming forward and in giving evidence.”