|X-Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell, 55, pictured, admitted raping several women over the course of 22 years|
A 'pure evil' X Factor contestant has been jailed for life after using a 'rape kit' to sexually assault nine women in horrific attacks over 22 years.
Phillip Blackwell - who went viral for his cover of Spandau Ballet's Gold on the talent show - filmed the terrifying rapes and covered some of his victims' eyes with tape.
He followed young women who were walking home at night alone before launching his sickening sex attacks across Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Birmingham and Cornwall.
The one-time X Factor contestant was 'calm and calculated' during the assaults, telling his victims he 'wanted them to enjoy it' and he even put on a Irish accent to avoid detection.
Blackwell was caught after a woman in 2017 said he raped her in his sleep. His DNA was taken and it matched his first assault in 1997.
He was branded a 'dangerous and manipulative sexual predator' after he admitted being a serial rapist at Warwick Crown Court.
Sentencing, Judge Peter Cooke said Blackwell was the most dangerous offender he had ever dealt with in his 35 year career, apart from murderers.
The serial rapist received 17 life sentences to run concurrently, with the possibility of a parole review after serving nine years.
The ex-supply teacher achieved momentary fame on the ITV show in 2008 when his version of Spandau Ballet's Gold failed to impress judges Cheryl, Louis and Simon.
He later went on to tour the county and perform alongside other stars at the X-Factor Live events in 2009 which featured Alexandra Burke and JLS.
The offences took place in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and Birmingham in the late 1990s and in Cornwall between 2005 and 2019 - before and after his time on the show.
Five of Blackwell's victims were vulnerable young women who he targeted because he thought they were wearing 'attractive clothing' as they walked alone in Birmingham, Coventry and Nuneaton.
After stalking them, he would pounce, using gaffer-tape to bind their hands together and telling them 'Don't scream. I don't want to hurt you.'
His second spate of sickening attacks took place beet 2005 and 2019, a string of sexual offences on four women in Launceston, Cornwall.
He was still attacking the women when he achieved short-lived fame on the X Factor.
The court heard the sex monster committed a total 31 sexual offences against nine victims over 22 years 'while maintaining a veneer of respectability' in his community.
Blackwell, of Launceston, was charged in January following a joint investigation between Warwickshire and West Midlands Police.
The court heard specialist officers from Warwickshire Police recovered videos from Blackwell's hard drive of him performing gross sexual acts on his victims while they were 'comatose'.
Police recovered 53 videos of the monster carrying out his crimes on some sleeping victims, which they concluded happened on at least 19 individual occasions.
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.'
Mr Langdale said some of Blackwell's attacks were carried out on women who were unconscious after he had 'plied victims with alcohol in order to get compliance'.
He told one woman: '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.'
He also threatened his victims and told one: 'You have a beautiful body and I can do this over and over again because I know where you live.'
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'.
Sentencing, Judge Peter Cooke said: 'You got away with leading a double life. You are clever, calculating, forensically aware, devious, manipulative and plausible.
'To quote a victim, 'I saw him as a charming man with a good sense of humour but he was sly and clever.'
'Going back 23 years ago, it is clear that you had equipped yourself with a rape kit.
'This included balaclava, Irish accent, tape for binding and camcorder to record the offending.
'It shows there was nothing spontaneous to your offending or loss of control or inner turmoil.
'You would get your kit together knowing what you were doing and you would go off to rape young woman. The covering of your tracks becomes more sophisticated.
'You appreciate female anatomy but that is the only regard you have for women.
'To give yourself permission to use women as you wish, with no regard for them or their feelings, you must regard women with a level of contempt shocking to contemplate.
'The harm you have done is incalculable. A murderer takes life itself but you have taken so much from so many people.
'For two decades you have left lives ruined in your wake. You are to be sentenced for predatory sexual offending spanning 23 years and nine victims with some unknown ones.
'It is 47 rapes or attempts, some multiple offence counts, and the full gamut of sexual assaults.
'It is clear from the early rapes and attempted rape that you were responsible for a campaign of stranger rapes.
'You were preying on lone women. It involved planning and selecting a target and location, to drag them so the attack could take place.
'False disguise, stories, accents. You made up a girlfriend as a cover story.
'It involved a combo of deception, promises and on occasion outright threats all in a view to having your way.
'There is an abundance of evidence you have caused physiological and physical harm.
'I must impose a sentence of imprisonment for life. If I were to conclude you would cease to be a danger it would have a backstop release date.
'I can only conclude that you will remain a serious danger to the public long into the future.
'The stranger rapes would have been sufficient on their own but this is a pattern of deeply disturbing sexually deviant behaviour.
'You are a very real danger to any female.
'It demonstrates that it is a serious pattern of sexual offending. Your past track record gives me no comfort at all and demonstrates the danger you pose.
'I am satisfied that you present a significant risk of causing harm or further offences. Your offending is so series and a life sentence has to be imposed.
'You are one of the most dangerous offenders for whom the most serious punishment must be given.
'I can think of no more dangerous individual of 35 years in criminal law apart from murderers.'
Addressing the victims, who watched the proceedings via video link, Judge Cooke added: 'Ladies, I hope you find justice has been done on a man that wrongs you so grievously.
'Thank you for the bravery you have shown.
'I hope it brings you to comfort that he is embarking on a life sentence, knowing he has had his just deserts.'
Blackwell bowed his head forward in the dock and showed little emotion as he was sentenced.
In February, he pleaded guilty to sex offences against five women, four of which occurred in Birmingham over 1997 and 1998 and one in Nuneaton in May 1998.
In each case, the young women were walking alone in the early hours when they were attacked from behind before being raped or subjected to other sexual offences.
He admitted four counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, five counts of indecent assault and one count of false imprisonment.
Warwickshire Police then launched one of their biggest ever operations and tracked down more victims in Cornwall.
He then appeared via video link where he pleaded guilty to a further 20 sexual offences against three women.
This included nine counts of rape, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of assault by penetration and three counts of voyeurism.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of taking indecent photographs of a child and another count of voyeurism in relation to that same child.
Blackwell was told to expect a lengthy jail term when he is sentenced at the same court on July 27.
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Corfield, from the Warwickshire Police Major Investigation Unit, said afterwards: 'Blackwell offended on a huge scale.
'It is clear he is a dangerous and manipulative sexual predator who has caused untold misery to his victims for the purpose of his own sexual gratification.
'He poses a serious danger to women.
'Today, after more than 20 years of offending, Blackwell's past has caught up with him and now he must face the consequences of his actions.
'Most of the survivors of his crimes have had to wait many years for justice and will have been forced to relive the horrors Blackwell subjected them to.
'All the women he has attacked and abused have shown immense courage and I hope they can take some comfort from this conviction.'
Karen Hackett, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'The CPS worked in partnership with Warwickshire Police who led investigations involving Devon and Cornwall and West Midlands Police to build a strong prosecution case against Phillip Blackwell to reflect the gravity of the offences.
'The weight of the evidence against him was such that he had little option but to plead guilty.
'Blackwell is a prolific sex offender who committed 31 sexual offences against nine victims over 22 years while maintaining a veneer of respectability in the communities in which he lived.
'His victims have all suffered life-changing consequences due to his crimes, and we are pleased that he has finally been brought to justice.'
During his TV appearance 12 years ago, the X-Factor flop told Cheryl how he hoped to achieve 'multi platinum-selling albums, all over the world'.
He also boasted that he believed there was nobody better in the UK charts than him at the time.
He then left Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh in stitches with his comical rendition of Gold in which he held the final note of the song for almost 30 seconds.
Described as a 43-year-old supply teacher at the time, he told the judges: 'I think if you get me in the studio, I'll be able to get albums out there. Its a different act.'
He later said: 'Louis loved me but Simon didn't so it was left to Cheryl. I knew she wouldn't have the guts to go against Simon. She's gutless.'
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