An X Factor reject described as “pure evil” has been jailed for life after admitting a series of rapes and other sex offences that took place over 22 years.
Phillip Blackwell, 56, had admitted committing offences against five women in Birmingham and Nuneaton between 1997 and 1998.
He later admitted a further 20 sexual offences against three women between 2005 and 2019 as well as one count of taking indecent photographs of a child and a count of voyeurism.
In all, Blackwell committed 31 sexual offences against nine victims over 22 years. He was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on Monday.
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.”
Blackwell, a musician who has played in bands, appeared on ITV’s The X Factor in 2008 and sang Spandau Ballet’s Gold in an unsuccessful audition.
He was arrested at his Cornwall home earlier this year and went on to plead guilty in February to four counts of rape, one attempted rape, five counts of indecent assault and one of false imprisonment.
The charges relate to offences against women in the Birmingham and Nuneaton cases in the late 90s. West Midlands Police said that in each instance, young women were walking alone early in the morning when they were attacked from behind and either raped or subjected to other sex crimes.
After his guilty pleas, Warwickshire Police took the lead investigating sexual offences against four women in Cornwall.
Blackwell then appeared in court in May, and pleaded guilty to 20 more sexual offences including nine counts of rape, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of assault by penetration and three counts of voyeurism, all committed against three women between 2005 and 2019.
He also admitted one count of taking indecent photographs of a child and a count of voyeurism in relation to the same child.
He taped some of the victims’ eyes and filmed himself attacking young women, Warwick Crown Court was told.
Adrian Langdale QC, prosecuting, said Blackwell often grabbed his victims from behind by their neck or head and “rammed” them to the floor before raping or sexually assaulting them.
Blackwell disguised himself by using a “soft Irish accent” and wore a balaclava or mask, and told his first victim to close her eyes and count to 100 after he finished attacking her, the court heard.
His victims were “plied” with alcohol, the court heard. He told one: “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?”
One persuaded him to remove his balaclava and not to rape her, and he told her she “should be a social worker for talking him out of it”.
Blackwell told a victim he knew where she lived and he could “do this over and over again”.
He was described by a victim as “pure evil” and another said he had left her with a “devastating and long-lasting effect”.
Sentencing, Judge Peter Cooke said: “You got away with leading a double life for as long as that because you are clever, because you are calculated, because you are forensically aware, because you are devious and because you are manipulative.”
He said Blackwell had “no regard whatsoever” for women as human beings.
“You must treat them with a level of contempt that is too shocking to even contemplate.
“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.”
Blackwell must serve a minimum term of nine years and was put on the sex offenders’ register for life, as well as being ordered not to directly or indirectly contact any of his victims.
Police said Blackwell’s arrest followed “Operation Fairway”, a collaboration between West Midlands Police, the National Crime Agency and Warwickshire Police – one of the latter force’s biggest investigations.
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Corfield, from the Warwickshire Police Major Investigation Unit, said: “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.”