Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Online Predator Used Blackmail for Child Abuse

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Online Predator Used Blackmail for Child Abuse

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Kennedy Court Reporter

SEXUAL predator Paul Leighton admitted his involvement in the rape of a baby 4,000 miles away from his North East home after targeting youngsters around the world in a sinister campaign of sex abuse and blackmail.

Posing as a young girl, the 32-year-old set up between 30 and 40 Facebook accounts to fuel his twisted desires.

Police believe the paedophile may have targeted as many as 100 victims around the world, including as far afield as the USA, Canada and Australia, as well as in the UK.

In one episode, the spray painter coerced a 14-year-old boy in Florida into repeatedly raping his baby niece. Leighton admitted three counts of rape, despite never having been near the youngster.

A court heard he would threaten to send indecent images, which he had tricked youngsters into sending him, to their families unless they carried out his demands.

Now the "clearly dangerous" abuser, from Durham, has been jailed for 16 years at Newcastle Crown Court for offences of blackmail, rape, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs of a child, sexual assault, distributing indecent images of a child and possession of an indecent video.

The 14-year-old boy from Florida was tricked into believing he was talking to a girl, then coerced into repeatedly raping his one-year-old niece.

Leighton told the teenager that he would post videos of the abuse online if he did not commit more acts of abuse.

The boy has since been charged by the US authorities.

Prosecutor Paul Reid said: "This was a campaign of rape.

"The defendant has pleaded guilty to the rape of this baby 4,000 miles away as he was using (the uncle) as an accessory."

Mr Reid said the case involved the "utterly appalling abuse of many children". The court heard Leighton blackmailed two British teenage girls and also sexually abused a nine-year-old girl living in the North East of England. …

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