Warwickshire Police investigation to catch prolific sex offender and former X Factor contestant featured on BBC Crimewatch Live

  Posted: 23.03.21 at 15:36 by The Editor

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An investigation by Warwickshire Police to catch a prolific sex offender who attacked women in Nuneaton and across the UK, has featured on today's BBC Crimewatch Live program.

Last year an investigation into Phillip Blackwell was concluded after he was given a life sentence at Warwick Crown Court for sexual offences against nine females in three counties over a 22-year period.

Phillip Blackwell, then 56 and previously of Western Road, Launceston, Cornwall had previously pleaded guilty to 13 counts of rape, one count of attempted rape, five counts of indecent assault, one count of false imprisonment, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of assault by penetration, four counts of voyeurism and one count of taking an indecent photograph of a child.

Blackwell was responsible for attacks on five females in Nuneaton and the south of Birmingham in the late 1990s.

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.

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.

It was when DNA was checked by officers from Devon and Cornwall Police as part of a 2019 investigation into a rape in Cornwall that he was linked to two of the attacks in the Midlands; one in Nuneaton and one in Birmingham.

He was arrested at his home in Launceston in January 2020 by officers from Devon and Cornwall Police.

Blackwell admitted to these attacks and three more in Birmingham.

Enquiries by Warwickshire Police led to offences against four females in Cornwall being identified.

Blackwell was sentenced to life in prison. He will serve a minimum of nine years before he can be considered for parole. He will also have to sign the sex offenders' register for life.

A feature on the investigation has been produced by the BBC and can be viewed by following this link.

The feature begins 46 minutes into the program.

Blackwell's 2008 X Factor audition saw him perform Spandau Ballet's song 'Gold'.

Karen Hackett, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said last year: "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."

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