DNA taken by Cornish police catches serial sexual predator

    Former X-Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell has been jailed for life

    DNA taken by Cornish police has revealed the dark past of a serial sexual predator who has been jailed for life for attacks on women over three decades.

    Former X-Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell, 56, previously of Western Road, Launceston, appeared before Warwick Crown Court for sentence yesterday (27 July).

    He had previously admitted to 31 sexual offences against nine women in Cornwall, Warwickshire and Birmingham.

    Blackwell, who infamously appeared on The X-Factor in 2008 with his rendition of Spandau Ballet’s Gold, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of nine years before being considered for parole.

    He will also have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life. 

    His dark history of offending since the 1990s came to light after his DNA was taken during a sexual offences investigation in Cornwall.

    A woman came forward with allegations, including rape, against Blackwell.

    He was arrested at his home in Launceston by Devon and Cornwall Police in August 2019 and his DNA taken.

    When entered into the UK National DNA Database his profile was found to be a match for a string of stranger rapes against five women in Nuneaton and Birmingham between 1997 and 1998.

    In each case, the young women were walking alone in the early hours of the morning when they were attacked from behind before being raped or subjected to other sexual offences.

    Back then Warwickshire Police launched Operation Fairway, working in collaboration with West Midlands Police and the National Crime Agency, to lead one of the biggest investigations ever carried out by the Warwickshire force.

    Despite the size of the investigation and DNA samples being taken from thousands of men in the area, Blackwell, who lived in Birmingham at the time, did not come to light as a suspect. In 2003, Blackwell moved to Cornwall where he continued to offend.

    Appearing at Warwick Crown Court in February Blackwell pleaded guilty to committing sexual offences against the five women, four of which occurred in Birmingham over 1997 and 1998 and one in Nuneaton in May 1998.

    He admitted four counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, five counts of indecent assault and one count of false imprisonment.

    Following his plea at court, Warwickshire Police took the lead on the Cornwall investigation and identified sexual offences against four females.

    Blackwell had raped three women and secretly filmed them asleep as he sexually assaulted them. He also took covert footage of a teenage girl leaving a bathroom while undressed or partially dressed.

    He appeared via video link at court again in May where he pleaded guilty to a further 20 sexual offences in Cornwall.

    This included nine counts of rape, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of assault by penetration and three counts of voyeurism.

    These offences were committed against three women between 2005 and 2019.

    He also pleaded guilty to one count of taking indecent photographs of a child and a count of voyeurism in relation to the same child. 

    In sentencing Judge Peter Cooke at Warwick Crown Court said it has been conclusively demonstrated Blackwell remained an ongoing danger to women and that there were good grounds for believing he would remain a serious danger to the public way into the future.

    If you have been a victim of a sexual offence, no matter when it occurred, support is available.

    For more information go to https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/advice/threat-assault-abuse/rape-sexual-assault/reporting-a-rape-or-sexual-assault/.

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