A JUDGE praised the bravery of police called after a rapist took a mum and her children hostage at knifepoint.

Jurors took less than three hours to find lorry driver David Watts guilty of child rape, sexual assault of a child, false imprisonment and threats to kill. He was acquitted of one count of making threats to kill.

However, the 40-year-old was not present to hear the verdict, having decided to absent himself from the three day trial.

Judge Martin Picton told jurors at Bristol Crown Court after the verdicts were read out that Watts “wouldn’t play ball” with the legal process – and the judge had had to enter not guilty verdicts on his behalf and set the case down for trial after he repeatedly failed to enter his pleas.

Adjourning the case for sentencing and ordering a pre-sentence report, the judge praised the bravery of Watts’ victims who had given evidence at the trial and the police officers who had come to the family’s rescue in Ramsbury in June. He said of the Wiltshire Police officers: “They put their lives at risk going into a room with a man armed with a knife to save the lives of others.”

During the trial, jurors heard that rapist Watts had been found out when his young victim’s mother walked in on him molesting her daughter late one night in June 2020.

The following morning he threatened the woman with a knife and had also stopped her from calling the police.

Watts went on to hold the woman and her children against their will in an upstairs room.

Prosecutor Charles Row said: “The defendant slammed the living room door and declared that they were now his hostages. He said he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. He said now that they were his hostages it was going to be an interesting couple of days.”

First on the scene was a special constable, Sgt David Turner. He tried knocking on the door but could raise no answer.

Sgt Turner went to the back garden as his colleagues tried to batter down the door. Mr Row said: “As he was watching, the officer said one of the children put a note up to the window.” It read: “Just break in, he’s trying to stab us.”

The front door would not yield, so police smashed through a window then kicked their way into the bedroom, jurors heard. One of the officers was forced to use his Taser in an attempt to detain Watts.

Interviewed by police, the man claimed to have no recollection of the incident. He said he was a binge drinker who habitually drank vodka every weekend.

Watts, formerly of Ramsbury, will be sentenced on a date to be fixed. He remains remanded in custody.

Judge Picton thanked jurors for their service during the case. He described Watts’ crimes as awful, adding: “He will serve many, many years in prison.”