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Serious crimes blackmailing children into raping relatives

Serious crimes blackmailing children into raping relatives

Prosecutors say Paul Leighton was responsible for the “utterly appalling abuse of many children” – some thousands of miles away.

A pedophile who persuaded children to send him nude selfies then blackmailed them into abusing other youngsters has been sentenced to 16 years in jail. Paul Leighton, from Co Durham, used Facebook to contact children from the UK, Canada, and the US. Despite being thousands of miles away from the crimes when they occurred, he pleaded guilty to three counts of rape. He was also sentenced for blackmail, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual assault, possessing cannabis, distributing indecent images of a child and possession of an indecent video.

Officers found evidence that as many as 100 children in North America had been abused. Judge Robert Adams, sentencing Leighton, said: “You have effectively destroyed the lives of these people against whom you made these threats.” Among Leighton’s victims was a 14-year-old Florida boy who repeatedly raped his one-year-old-niece after being blackmailed. He had been tricked into believing he was talking to a girl, then Leighton threatened him with posting videos online if he did not continue with the abuse. Leighton told the teen: “Block me, I will immediately post (the images). Do you want that? Do everything I say to her or I will.” The boy has since been charged by US authorities.

Among his other victims was a 13-year-old girl in Tennessee, who was forced into having sex with her older brother. Leighton also blackmailed two British teenage girls, and sexually abused a nine-year-old girl living in the North East of England. Detectives working on the crimes described them as the worst they had witnessed. “He was calculated and sophisticated in his approach to this abuse and his lack of thought for his victims is spine-chilling,” Detective Sergeant Peter Morgan said. Sky News

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