X Factor contestant pleads guilty to 31 sexual offences including rape

A former X Factor contestant has pleaded guilty to raping multiple women over three decades.

Phillip Blackwell, 55, was told to expect a lengthy jail term as he was branded a ‘dangerous and manipulative sexual predator’ at Warwick Crown Court on Thursday, 18 June. 

The court heard that Blackwell, who auditioned for The X Factor in 2008, committed 31 sexual offences against nine victims over 22 years ‘while maintaining a veneer of respectability’ in his community. 

The offences took place in Nuneaton, Warks., and Birmingham in the late 1990s and in Cornwall between 2005 and 2019 – before and after his time on the show.

Blackwell, of Launceston, Cornwall, was charged in January following a joint investigation between Warwickshire and West Midlands Police.

In February, he pleaded guilty to sex offences against five women, four of which occurred in Birmingham over 1997 and 1998 and one in Nuneaton in May 1998.

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

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

Warwickshire Police then launched one of their biggest ever operations and tracked down more victims in Cornwall, and Blackwell appeared via video link where he pleaded guilty to a further 20 sexual offences against three women.

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

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

Blackwell will be sentenced at the same court on 27 July. 

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Corfield, from the Warwickshire Police Major Investigation Unit, said afterwards: ‘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.

‘Today, after more than 20 years of offending, Blackwell’s past has caught up with him and now he must face the consequences of his actions.

‘Most of the survivors of his crimes have had to wait many years for justice and will have been forced to relive the horrors Blackwell subjected them to.

‘All the women he has attacked and abused have shown immense courage and I hope they can take some comfort from this conviction.’

Karen Hackett, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘The CPS worked in partnership with Warwickshire Police who led investigations involving Devon and Cornwall and West Midlands Police to build a strong prosecution case against Phillip Blackwell to reflect the gravity of the offences.

‘The weight of the evidence against him was such that he had little option but to plead guilty.

‘Blackwell is a prolific sex offender who committed 31 sexual offences against nine victims over 22 years while maintaining a veneer of respectability in the communities in which he lived.

‘His victims have all suffered life-changing consequences due to his crimes, and we are pleased that he has finally been brought to justice.’

Blackwell auditioned for The X Factor 12 years ago, when he told then-judge Cheryl that he hoped to achieve ‘multi platinum-selling albums, all over the world. China, Europe’.

The then 43-year-old supply teacher said there was nobody better in the charts than him at that time. 

Blackwell left judges Cheryl, Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh stunned with his comical rendition of Gold in which he held the final note of the song for almost 30 seconds.

He said: ‘Get me through and I’ll make sure [the notes] are longer’, before then singing Elton John’s Your Song.

Blackwell continued: ‘I think if you get me in the studio, I’ll be able to get albums out there. Its a different act’, but was turned down by Cheryl and Simon, although Louis put him through.  

He later 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.’

The aspiring singer went on to appear at X Factor Live events in 2009 alongside stars like Alexandra Burke and JLS.

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