A “PURE evil” X Factor flop who used a “rape kit” to film himself carrying out depraved sex attacks on nine women over 22 years has been jailed for life.
Phillip Blackwell – who went viral for his cover of Spandau Ballet’s Gold – filmed the terrifying rapes and even covered some of his victims’ eyes with tape.
And today a judge told him: “I can think of no more dangerous individual of 35 years in criminal law – apart from murderers.”
The court earlier heard the 55-year-old supply teacher was “calm and calculated” during the shocking assaults, even telling his victims he “wanted them to enjoy it”.
Warwick Crown Court heard the serial rapist used a camcorder to film himself attacking women after committing the first crime in 1997.
Five of his victims were vulnerable young women who were targeted because he thought they were wearing “attractive clothing” as they walked alone in Birmingham, Coventry and Nuneaton, West Midlands.
Balaclava-clad Blackwell would then pounce, using gaffer-tape to bind their hands together and speaking in an Irish accent to avoid detection.
During his first attacks in the late 1990s, he would tell his helpless victims: “Don’t scream, I don’t want to hurt you.”
He then carried out a string of sexual offences on another four women in the Launceston area of Cornwall between 2005 and 2019.
He was still attacking the women when he achieved short-lived fame on the ITV talent show.
Blackwell even went on the shows’ UK tour and performed alongside other stars at the X Factor Live events in 2009, which featured Alexandra Burke and JLS.
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.”
Mr Langdale said some of Blackwell’s attacks were carried out on women who were unconscious after the fiend “plied victims with alcohol in order to get compliance”.
The former reality TV hopeful often used “delusional terms” while attacking his victims.
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.”
He also threatened his victims in order to prevent them from telling the police, with one of the victims being told: “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 statements of some of the women were read to the court, with one woman describing him as “pure evil”.
Another victim said she had “lived in fear for so long”, while a third said the attack on her had had a “devastating and long-lasting effect”.
Today, Blackwell was jailed for life as a judge said the defendant is one of the most dangerous offenders to appear in his court in 35 years.
Judge Peter Cooke said: “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 a balaclava, an Irish accent, tape for binding and a camcorder to record the offending.
“It shows there was nothing spontaneous to your offending or loss of control or inner turmoil.”
The judge said Blackwell “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,” he said.
“For two decades you have left lives ruined in your wake.”
He added: “You are one of the most dangerous offenders for whom the most serious punishment must be given.”
Blackwell was jailed for life with a minimum term of nine years, put on the sex offenders’ register for life and ordered not to directly or indirectly contact any of his victims.
It was heard he evaded justice for more than two decades before he matched DNA taken from the first assault in 1997.
As part of their investigation, cops examined a number of 8mm video cassettes which showed Blackwell video recording a victim at various states of undress.
In November 2017, another victim contacted police and said the defendant had taken photos of her and raped her in her sleep.
The disclosure led to Blackwell’s eventual arrest and charge.
Speaking after he pleaded guilty, Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Corfield from the Warwickshire Police Major Investigation Unit said: “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.”
Blackwell auditioned for the X Factor 12 years ago – telling the panel he wanted to achieve “multi platinum-selling albums, all over the world. China, Europe”.
Both Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell turned him down, although fellow judge Louis Walsh tried to put him through to the next round.
After exiting the show he accused Girls Aloud singer Cheryl of backing Simon Cowell’s decision to kick him off the show.
He 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.”