Pervert ‘groomed’ single mother to get to young boy

Paedophile Matt Richards
Paedophile Matt Richards
Rolf Harris

Appeal court overturns Portsmouth indecent assault conviction against Rolf Harris

  • Mother tells how she felt ‘groomed’ by pervert
  • Man had changed his name after leaving prison
  • He babysat child around 30 times
  • 46-year-old had previously abducted teenager
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SMILING in a playground and entertaining a young child, Matt Richards was trusted to look after children.

But a disgusted mother has told of her horror at discovering he was a convicted pervert who changed his name to avoid detection after leaving prison.

The police picture of Matt Richards

The police picture of Matt Richards

Richards, formerly known as Andrew Watt, spent a year building a friendship with the woman after meeting her when she started selling items on Facebook.

It was only by chance the 46-year-old’s past convictions for indecency with and the abduction of a 15-year-old girl in 2004 was revealed when the mother found out Richards’ real name and put it in The News’ website.

Richards, of Laburnum Road, Waterlooville, was arrested and later admitted breaches of notification requirements, put in place when he was previously convicted.

Speaking to The News, the single mother said: ‘It’s sickening to think he would do so much, for so long – nearly a year – to get to a child.

It’s obvious that you are a risk to children

Judge Ian Pearson

‘That’s some kind of obsession, it’s really scary.’

She added Richards had babysat her child about 30 times and she had not suspected anything was wrong.

She feels Richards groomed her and now finds it hard to trust people.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Richards struck up a friendship with a second family after the first woman recommended him as a babysitter.

Jailing him for 33 months, Judge Ian Pearson said Richards was ‘devious’ and ‘manipulative’.

He said: ‘It’s obvious that you are a risk to children.’

He added: ‘The purpose for your forming those relationships was with a view in due course to behave in a sexual manner with those children.’

Mr Pearson imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, banning Richards from having contact with children, from living in a house with children and restricting his internet use.

He must comply with lifelong notification requirements.

The mother who has spoken out added: ‘It’s changed me, and not all of it’s for the better.

‘I’m young now and I’ve had to learn a hard lesson.’

Richards, the former treasurer at Queen Alexandra Hospital Radio in Cosham, also admitted stealing more than £3,000 from the station through 19 transactions.

Simon Moger, defending, said he had converted to Catholicism in prison and his father had paid back some of the cash.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Jaq Doran welcomed the sentence.

She said: ‘A lot of hard work went into this investigation and ultimately a serious sex offender has now been taken out of the community.’

The NSPCC said offenders do target families and build relationships with parents to access children.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We know that child sex offenders can be extremely devious, manipulative and sophisticated in the way they target victims.

‘They can involve a high degree of planning, premeditation and grooming of those immediately around the child, as well as the child themselves.’

- See nspcc.org.uk for help in protecting children against abuse or call its confidential helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Hospital radio station changes its policy

HOSPITAL chiefs have changed their policies on volunteers after a pervert hospital radio DJ was jailed.

Matt Richards, 46, a former DJ and treasurer at Queen Alexandra Hospital Radio, had access to the studio on Level B.

He was not subjected to a disclosure and barring service check when he joined the station.

But now Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust said it will DBS check all radio volunteers.

A spokeswoman said: ‘This individual had no access to patients and patients were not at risk at any point.’