Former X Factor contestant jailed for life after 22-year sex attack campaign

27 July 2020, 17:46

Serial rapist Philip Blackwell, 56, will be sentenced on Monday
Serial rapist Philip Blackwell, 56, will be sentenced on Monday. Picture: Warwickshire Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A "pure evil" former X Factor contestant has been jailed for life after launching sex attacks on nine women over a 22-year period.

Serial rapist Phillip Blackwell, 56, "plied victims with alcohol" as he launched sex attacks on nine women over a 22-year period, a court has heard.

He would tape over the eye of some of his victims and used a camcorder to film himself attacking young women following his first assault in 1997, Warwick Crown Court heard.

Blackwell "carefully targeted" five young vulnerable women in the late 1990s who were walking alone in Birmingham, Coventry and Nuneaton.

The sentencing judge on Monday described Blackwell as "monstrous" - adding: "Murderers aside, I can think of no more dangerous an individual that I have crossed in my 35 years in criminal law".

He took steps to disguise himself by putting on a "soft Irish accent" and wearing a balaclava or mask while attacking his victims.

However, the court heard how his fear of being caught did not match his desire for "notoriety and fame."

Blackwell then carried out a string of sexual offences on another four women in the Launceston area of Cornwall between 2005 and 2019.

The serial rapist's X Factor audition was aired during the 2008 series, but he was unsuccessful in reaching the finals.

Blackwell appeared on The X Factor in 2008 but did not make the finals
Blackwell appeared on The X Factor in 2008 but did not make the finals. Picture: PA

At previous court hearings, Blackwell pleaded guilty to 31 sex offences, including rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, assault by penetration, voyeurism and false imprisonment.

Describing Blackwell's "predatory instincts" to the court, prosecutor Adrian Langdale QC said: "He's a serial rapist whose campaign of abuse has spanned over 22 years.

"He identified young females dressed in a particular way that he found attractive, followed them in his car... got in front of his victims and got into a place where he could carry out his attack.

"It was cold, calculated behaviour."

The prosecutor said some of his attacks were carried out on women who were unconscious, saying he "plied victims with alcohol in order to get compliance."

Blackwell often used "delusional terms" while attacking his victims, as one woman was told: "If I met a girl like you, I would want to marry you. I want you to enjoy this."

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

The court heard how the 56-year-old "carefully targeted" his victims
The court heard how the 56-year-old "carefully targeted" his victims. Picture: PA

Mr Langdale said Blackwell attempted to conceal his identity, with his first victim being told to "close her eyes and count to 100" after he had finished attacking her.

One victim managed to persuade Blackwell to remove his balaclava and not rape her - as he said she "should be a social worker for talking him out of it."

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."

Mr Langdale told the court how Blackwell often "grabbed" his victims from behind by their neck or head and "rammed" them to the floor before raping or sexually assaulting them.

Victim personal statements of some of the women were read to the court, with one woman describing him as "pure evil."

The court was told how one woman was left "feeling really horrible and dirty" and how he had made her feel "frightened and nervous."

Another victim said she had "lived in fear for so long" and one woman said the attack on her had had a "devastating and long-lasting effect."

Blackwell, of Western Road, Launceston, is set to be sentenced by Judge Peter Cooke on Monday.