Former X Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell jailed for life for sex attacks on nine women

July 27, 2020

A former X Factor contestant has been sentenced to life in prison for launching dozens of sex attacks on multiple women over a 22-year period.

Serial rapist Phillip Blackwell, who auditioned for the 2008 series of the show but never reached the finals, was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty in previous court hearings to 31 sex offences on nine women.

The offences included rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, assault by penetration, voyeurism and false imprisonment.

Warwick Crown Court had earlier heard how the 56-year-old had carried out the "cold" and "calculated" attacks since 1997 by sometimes taping his victims' eyes shut, putting on a "soft Irish accent", and using a camcorder to film himself in the act.

He is said to have "carefully targeted" five young women walking alone in Birmingham, Coventry and Nuneaton in the late 1990s, before resuming attacks on four other women in the Launceston area of Cornwall between 2005 and 2019.

Delivering the sentence, Judge Peter Cooke said he found Blackwell "monstrous" and that he could think of "no more dangerous an individual" - besides murderers - that he had come across in his 35-year career in criminal law.

He told the defendant - who played in bands named AWOL, Missing People and Suspect - that it was clear he had equipped himself with a "rape kit" for the attacks, which consisted of a balaclava, a tape for binding hands and blindfolding, and a camcorder "to record for your later enjoyment".

"It is clear you that you have an appreciation for female anatomy but that seems to be the only regard you have for women," the judge said.

"You have no regard whatsoever for them as human beings or the impact for what you do to them.

"You treat them with a level of contempt that is too shocking to even contemplate."

Blackwell was given a life sentence with a minimum term of nine years, in addition to being put on the sex offenders' register for life and being banned from contacting any of the victims in any way.

The judge added: "The harm that you have done with your selfishness is incalculable.

"If you wanted to do it, to hell with everyone else, you would do it.

"You are one of the most dangerous offenders."

Prosecutor Adrian Langdale QC had earlier opened the case in court by describing Blackwell's "predatory instincts" which included preying on "young females dressed in a particular way that he found attractive" and following them in his car.

He said the defendant would then get "in front of his victims and got into a place where he could carry out his attack," adding: "It was cold, calculated behaviour."

Some of the victims, Mr Langdale said, would be unconscious during the attack as they had been plied with alcohol "in order to get compliance".

One woman was said to have been told: "If I met a girl like you, I would want to marry you. I want you to enjoy this."

Another was told: "I'm not going to hurt you, we're just going to make love if that's OK?"

Mr Langdale said the defendant had also tried to hide his identity - telling one woman to "close her eyes and count to 100" after the attack - but the court heard this fear of being caught did not match his desire for "notoriety and fame".

He is said to have told one victim that she "should be a social worker" for "talking him out of" one attack.

He also threatened his victims in order to prevent them from telling the police, with one woman being told: "I know where you live. You have a beautiful body and I can do this over and over again because I know where you live."

Personal statements were read out to the court from some of the victims, in which one described her attacker as "pure evil".

Another said she was left "feeling really horrible and dirty" and was "frightened and nervous", while one had been "living in fear for so long".

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