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Soldier jailed for kidnap and attempted murder of fellow serviceman


John Watson was found guilty of attempted murder at Reading Crown Court

John Watson was found guilty of attempted murder at Reading Crown Court

John Watson was found guilty of attempted murder at Reading Crown Court

A soldier who kidnapped a fellow serviceman and love rival before attempting to kill him with cling film and a jab saw has been jailed.

John Watson, 35, from Surrey, ambushed James Dicks and forced the Household Cavalry trooper into the back of his car while threatening him with the serrated blade.

The former Guardsman "hog-tied" Mr Dicks, then 28, to the driver's head rest of his car and drove to a nearby car park after lying in wait near his estranged wife Lynsey's Windsor home on May 4 last year.

When Mr Dicks, who is based at Prince Harry's former barracks in Windsor, tried to escape, Watson attempted to wrap his head in cling film before continuing to attack him with a knife, leaving him with stab and slash wounds.

Mr Dicks was saved only when two police officers armed with Tasers arrived at the scene.

Reading Crown Court, sitting at Reading Magistrates' Court, heard churchgoing Watson had plotted to kill Mr Dicks by researching the Moors Murders on Google, making notes for messages he would send from the victim's phone and ordering a grave dug near the barracks, which he had claimed was for his dead dog.

The father-of-two was said to have been left "devastated" by the breakdown of his marriage over Christmas 2015 before believing former friend Mr Dicks had "betrayed" him once he learned of their relationship months later.

Watson was found guilty of attempted murder at the same court on January 19, following a retrial, and was convicted of kidnapping on October 21 at the initial trial.

He previously pleaded guilty to unlawfully having a knife in a public place.

Jailing him for 16 years with an extended licence period of three years, Judge Angela Morris said: "It seems to me there are two John Watsons; the John Watson who was a devoted family man and the disciplined soldier who served his country with honour and bravery and then there is the other John Watson, the one who allowed himself to become consumed by anger, jealousy, rage and murderous intent over the course of February to May 2016."

Watson and Mr Dicks had met in 2010 and become friends when they were both were stationed at Combermere Barracks, near Windsor, in 2015.

Each was married at the time, living in Army accommodation, but by the end of the year their respective marriages had broken down. Watson was transferred to Pirbright barracks, near Woking, and by the start of 2016, Mr Dicks and Mrs Watson began seeing each other - a tryst they tried to keep secret.

Neil Griffin, defending, said the defendant initially planned to commit suicide after the marriage breakdown but did not go through with it and shortly afterwards found out about Mr Dicks's relationship with Mrs Watson.

The couple were said to have begun their relationship at around new year but Watson considered it a "betrayal", believing they had had an "affair".

He reported it as a breach of the moral code to the Army, which ordered Mr Dicks not to live in Mrs Watson's home, but a senior officer later told Watson to "grow up, pull your socks up and get over it".

It was after the death of his foster mother in March that he began to plan the murder, Mr Griffin said.

"It's in those worst and lowest moments of John Watson's life ... That he by his own admission planned to to kill James Dicks," he said.

Mr Griffin said the attack was "totally out of character" for Watson, who had been born to drug-addicted parents and was taken into foster care at the age of 11.

After joining the Army at 18 and later serving in Afghanistan, where he "saw friends and colleagues wounded and killed", Watson married in 2008 and settled down with the woman who would go on to be mother of his children.

Mr Griffin said: "He had described his family life, before this eruption of tragedy, as perfect."

He added that the victim's fear that Watson still harboured resentment against him was "not true".

In a personal statement recorded on February 1, Mr Dicks said: "I honestly believe he will not give up. He wants me out of the picture."

But Mr Griffin, reciting Watson's own words, said: "That's not true. I have given up - there's nothing to pursue.

"It's finished, it's all done now.

"The marriage is over and I want to put it behind me."

The court heard Mr Dicks and Mrs Watson were either expecting or had had a child together.

Judge Morris said Watson's belief they had been having an affair was unfounded.

She said: "It is clear ... that the separation from your wife and children had a devastating and profound effect upon you but there is no evidence which has been placed before the court to demonstrate that Lynsey and James were conducting a relationship before your marriage ended.

"It may well be your perception of things which fuelled your anger and motivated you in your aim to kill him, but perception and reality are two different things."

Judge Morris added the jury had dismissed his defence that he had changed his mind about killing Mr Dicks on the morning of the attack, by virtue of the evidence that he had driven to Windsor at 6am, already made handcuffs out of the cable ties and put the back seats of his car down covered with a sheet.

But for members of the public calling police, Mr Dicks would have been dead, Judge Morris said.

She added: "I have no doubt that had members of the public not acted as they did on May 4, you would have succeeded in your murderous plan and so it is to them that Mr Dicks owes a great debt of gratitude.

"Perhaps you do too."

The judge said she considered Watson "dangerous" to the public in light of the level of planning of the attack.

"I find that your thoughts and deeds through the months of February to May 2016 and the level of premeditation involved in these offences are of such a degree that I have come to the conclusion there is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm," she said.

Watson, wearing a green HMP Woodhill-issue t-shirt and blue jeans, was handed a 19-year sentence, with 16 years in custody, for the attempted murder charge, and concurrent terms of four years for kidnap and six months for possession of a bladed article.