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X Factor ‘rape kit’ attacker who taped victims’ eyes lived ‘double life’ for 22 YEARS as ex-pupils tell of ‘creepy perv’

A "DEVIOUS and sly" X-Factor contestant who used a "rape kit" to film himself carrying out depraved sex attacks lived a "double life" for 22 years - as ex-pupils say he was viewed as a "creep".

Evil Phillip Blackwell, who worked as a supply teacher, filmed the terrifying rapes and even covered some of his victims' eyes with tape.

Former X Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell, pictured here during his audition, has been jailed for life after he admitted a string of horrific rapes
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Former X Factor contestant Phillip Blackwell, pictured here during his audition, has been jailed for life after he admitted a string of horrific rapesCredit: ITV
Serial rapist Blackwell had taped some of his victims' eyes and used a camcorder to film himself attacking young women after launching his first assault in 1997
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Serial rapist Blackwell had taped some of his victims' eyes and used a camcorder to film himself attacking young women after launching his first assault in 1997Credit: SWNS:South West News Service

Blackwell, 56, abused his nine victims over 22 years dating from 1997.

The ex-supply teacher, who was on the ITV show in 2008 singing Spandau Ballet's Gold, admitted 31 sex offences.

The monster was caged for life on Monday.

Sentencing, the judge said he had "got away with leading a double life" because he was "clever, calculated, forensically aware, devious and manipulative".

Neighbour Dave Harrison, 47, told the Sun Online: "You could never have imagined him attacking women in the way he did. He came over as an ordinary, friendly bloke.

"I feel sorry for his family, some of whom still live round here. It must be awful for them.

"He doesn’t appear to have shown any remorse and was absolutely brazen in the way he targeted women. It was as though he thought he couldn't ever be caught.

"I'm just glad he got those life sentences. He deserves to serve every minute."

Meanwhile a former pupil at the school where Blackwell worked as a supply teacher told the Sun Online he was regarded as "creepy".

He said: "He let it be known that he'd been a singer and in a band and everything. But no one was that impressed.

"People just thought he was a middle-aged guy who hadn't quite made it.

"Everyone round here is shocked that he got away with these attacks for so long."

Blackwell launched sex attacks on nine women over a 22-year period 
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Blackwell launched sex attacks on nine women over a 22-year period Credit: SWNS:South West News Service

Warwick Crown Court heard how the 56-year-old "carefully targeted" five young vulnerable women who were walking alone in Birmingham, Coventry and Nuneaton.

Judge Peter Cooke 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".

Despite taking steps to disguise himself by putting on a "soft Irish accent" and wearing a balaclava or mask while attacking his victims, the court heard how his fear of being caught did not match his desire for "notoriety and fame".

Following on from his attacks in the late 1990s in the Midlands, the depraved monster then carried out a string of sexual offences on another four women in the Launceston area of Cornwall between 2005 and 2019.

Blackwell would tell helpless victims "Don't scream, I don't want to hurt you" during the harrowing attacks on nine victims over a 22-year period.

The predator would also shower them with compliments such as "I want to marry you and make love to you" among other sickening forms of flattery.

But afterwards he would check their identification before chillingly telling them: "I know where you live".

SICK ATTACKS

At the same time he appeared on X-Factor and worked as a teacher.

He later 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.

Blackwell's first victim from February 1997 said in a statement she was "frightened of people with an Irish accent," adding: "I had dreams and you took them away."

She added: "I was young happy and carefree, a young girl. How could you do that?

“I prayed for the day you were caught. To find out you carried on hurting others, I can only describe you as pure evil."

'DOUBLE LIFE'

Sentencing Blackwell, Judge Cooke told him: "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."

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."

X Factor star whose rendition of Spandau Ballet's Gold went viral in court accused of rape and sex assault
Blackwell auditioned for the X Factor 12 years ago, and went viral for his cover of Gold
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Blackwell auditioned for the X Factor 12 years ago, and went viral for his cover of GoldCredit: SWNS:South West News Service