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Serial sex offender jailed for life

A man who committed sexual offences against nine females in three counties over a 22 year period has today (Monday 27 July) been jailed for life at Warwick Crown Court.

Phillip Blackwell, 56, 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.

Phillip Blackwell

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. 

Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Tedds from Warwickshire Police said: “Today is about Blackwell’s victims. Nothing can ever take away the pain they have suffered but I hope they can take some comfort from seeing him behind bars.

“They have shown great bravery throughout; their collective courage has ensured a very dangerous man is going to prison.

“As a detective constable working on the case for Warwickshire Police in the 1990s I saw first hand the terror Blackwell caused in the community. We were telling women not to go out alone; something you never want to have to do as a police officer.

“Despite not being solved at the time, the offences in the Nuneaton and Birmingham were regularly reviewed for new evidence.

“It was clear that Blackwell was very careful in his offending and this may have led him to believe he had got away with it. However, the bravery of one his victims in Cornwall in reporting her ordeal at his hands and the wonders of DNA technology have today ensured Blackwell’s past has caught up with him.

“The scale of his offending was astonishing; he is a very dangerous man and prison is undoubtedly the best place for him.

“I hope today’s outcome gives everyone the confidence that we will work tirelessly to bring sex offenders to justice no matter how long ago the offences occurred.


Statements from Blackwell’s victims:

Statement from victim of attack in Birmingham in February 1997
“It is difficult to put into words how I feel right now. From the day this horrendous nightmare started my whole future changed and not for the better, it affected every aspect of my life. I prayed for the day that the man who raped me was caught and thought it would never happen. The days, months, years of waiting, hoping it would make me feel better.

“Instead it has made me feel awful as I have had to relive all those emotions, it brought everything back.

“To find out he carried on hurting others but lived his life as he did is shocking!
At times recently I have felt that I cannot deal with it, I have felt so low that I wished I wasn’t here."
 

Statement from victim of attack in Birmingham in November 1997
“It is difficult to express in a short statement the impact of Phillip Blackwell’s actions; I was the victim not just of the physical act of his crimes but the ongoing mental illness it caused.

What do you say about someone who has taken so much? While he has finally faced justice after more than 20 years, whatever sentence he has been given today will not be proportionate to the pain and suffering he has caused me.

“Due to being raped and sexually assaulted by Phillip Blackwell I have suffered from post- traumatic stress disorder and, at my lowest point, I was suicidal.

“Nothing can undo what he did to me but I am thankful for the support of the police and CPS in finally bringing this man to justice and protecting other women from experiencing what I have lived through for more than 20 years.”


Statement from the victim of the rape in Nuneaton in May 1998
A girl scared for her life.

A girl living in fear.

A girl who became paranoid, self-loathing and had zero confidence.

A girl who was tormented by dark thoughts.

A girl who couldn't look back at the person in the mirror.

A girl who's soul had gone.

A girl who cried alone.

A girl seeking answers.

I am this girl. 18 years of age at the time and just starting out in life. The past 22 years have by no means been easy. This changed me forever.

To know that this man has done what he done to so many over the years sends sickness to the core.

His brutal acts forever replayed in his victims’ minds.

Shattering people into tiny pieces and having to learn how to fix yourself back together the best you can whilst living with the demons in your own head.

Painting on your smile so not to let the world know you silently cry rivers behind closed doors. Mourning the loss of the person you once were and not wanting those closest to you hurt anymore by seeing you hurt.

What if I didn’t walk home that night?

Why me?

Always questions but never the answers

Until now.

I'm still processing it all as I honestly thought I would never see this day.

But my god I'm so thankful I have.

Maybe now myself and all of the victims can finally get some kind of peace in our lives and start our next chapter free of the dark cloud that was always looming over us.

We finally have answers.


Statement from victim in Cornwall
“This case has been incredibly distressing. These crimes have not only affected the survivors of his crimes, but our families and friends. I would like to thank Warwickshire Police for their diligent work and the support they have shown us.

“The harm he has caused can never be undone”


Statement from victim in Cornwall
“I feel shocked by everything that has happened. I am simply existing rather than actually living. I am too distraught by what he has done. I believe he knew what he was doing was wrong and he took great pleasure in getting away with it. He is a very devious and dangerous man. I fear that he cannot be rehabilitated and will always be a threat to women and girls.”


Statement from victim in Cornwall
"Phillip Blackwell has caused so much hurt and pain to myself and others over a very long period of time. The offences that he has committed against me have caused me unimaginable distress and left me traumatised. I feel broken and damaged."


Statement from victim in Cornwall
“I hope he is feeling ashamed and disgusted with himself. I hope that he gets a huge wake up call to his actions and that he truly understands all the pain he has caused everyone.”

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