A former X-Factor contestant has been jailed for life for raping nine women over a 22-year period.
Phillip Blackwell, who went viral for his cover of Spandau Ballet’s Gold during his X-Factor audition in 2008, filmed the terrifying rapes and even covered some of his victims’ eyes with tape.
The Warwick Crown Court heard the serial rapist used a camcorder to film himself attacking women after committing the first crime in 1997.
The 56-year-old was “calm and calculated” during the shocking assaults, even telling his victims he ‘wanted them to enjoy it,’ the court heard.
He targeted ‘five young vulnerable women who were walking alone in Birmingham, Coventry, and Nuneaton.’ He disguised himself by putting on a “soft Irish accent” and wearing a balaclava or mask while attacking his victims.
Blackwell also carried out a string of sexual offences on another four women in the Launceston area of Cornwall between 2005 and 2019.
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, saying he “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 if that’s OK?”
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.
The court heard the victim’s personal statements of some of the women and one woman described 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”.
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.”
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.’
Sentencing Blackwell, Judge Peter Cooke told the defendant: ‘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.
“It is clear that you equipped yourself with a rape kit – a balaclava… tape for binding hands and covering eyes, and a camcorder to record for your later enjoyment.
“It is clear that you have an appreciation for female anatomy but that seems to be the only regard you have for women.
“You have no regard whatsoever for them as human beings or the impact for what you do to them. You must treat them with a level of contempt that is too shocking to even contemplate.”
The judge continued:
“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. ‘You are one of the most dangerous offenders. Murderers aside, I can think of no more dangerous an individual that I have crossed in my 35 years in criminal law.”
As well as being jailed for life with a minimum term of nine years, the musician was put on the sex offenders’ register for life and ordered not to directly or indirectly contact any of his victims.
Facebook’s Zuckerberg Becomes World’s Third Centibillionaire
Facebook’s CEO has joined Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates, as the only people with centibillionaire status.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune has topped $100bn for the first time, placing him among members of the world’s centibillionaires’ club.
This comes after Facebook’s shares surged by 6% on the news that the company plans to launch Instagram Reels, a rival to the Chinese video-sharing application TikTok.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump banned US companies from dealing with ByteDance and Tencent – the Chinese owners of TikTok and the WeChat messaging service.
The 36-year old media magnate has joined Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, and Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, as the only people who have centibillionaire status, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index said.
Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook while a student at Harvard in 2004, owns a 13% stake in the company. Earlier, he said that he was going to give away 99% of his Facebook shares over his lifetime to charity.
Another Canadian Sentenced To Death By Hanging In China
A court in Southern China on Thursday sentenced a Canadian citizen, Xu Weihong, to death for manufacturing drugs.
This, the court said, was the third such case since relationship between Canada and China soured two years ago over Canada’s detainment of a Huawei Executive.
The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement on its website that it sentenced Weihong to death for manufacturing drugs.
Meanwhile, a Chinese citizen, Wen Guanxiong, was also sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case.
Weihong is the third Canadian to be sentenced to death on drug-related charges in China in the past two years, as relations between Beijing and Ottawa turned icy over Canada’s detainment of Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou.
Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request. She faces accusations of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
However, shortly after her arrest, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, on accusations of espionage.
Critics say their arrest was done in retaliation for Meng’s detainment, while Beijing says Meng’s case is politically motivated.
In January 2019, Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was serving a 15-year prison sentence in China for drug smuggling, was suddenly retried and given the death penalty.
Also, another Canadian, Fan Wei, received the death penalty for drug trafficking after three months.
Drug convictions in China can attract long prison sentences or even the death sentence for trafficking.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that judicial cases were treated according to the law and that Weihong’s sentencing should not have any impact on China-Canada relations.
We Will Not Accept US “Theft” Of TikTok — China
China says it will not accept the U.S.’ “theft” of a Chinese technology company, state media reported on Tuesday.
The Trump administration’s pressuring of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company in China, to sell its U.S. operations to Microsoft or risk closure amounts to a “smash and grab,” the state-run China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial.
Beijing has ways to retaliate against Washington’s pressure on the Chinese-owned short video app TikTok.
While Beijing will likely be “cautious” in imposing equivalent restrictions on U.S. companies in China, it has “plenty of ways” to retaliate, the paper said.
Microsoft said on Monday that it was in discussions with ByteDance to buy parts of TikTok after U.S. President Donald Trump gave the companies 45 days to reach a deal.
Trump had initially threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. on national security grounds.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said over the weekend that Washington might take action “shortly” against TikTok and other Chinese companies believed to share data with the Chinese government.
ByteDance said in a statement late Sunday it was still committed to being a global company despite “complex and unimaginable difficulties” including the “tense” international political environment.
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