Paul Leighton jailed: 'Vile' paedophile blackmailed victims across world into abusing others

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A paedophile who tricked youngsters across the world into sending him nude selfies then blackmailed them into sexually abusing young relatives on camera has been jailed for 16 years.

Remorseless Paul Leighton, who created up to 40 fake Facebook profiles to befriend teenagers in the UK, Canada, the US and Australia, admitted three counts of rape despite being thousands of miles away when the offences happened.

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

Leighton threatened the teenager that he would post videos of the abuse online if he did not do more.

The boy has since been charged by the US authorities.

Sentencing Leighton to 16 years with a six year extended licence, Judge Robert Adams told him: “You have effectively destroyed the lives of these people against whom you made these threats.”

Leighton had up to 40 Facebook profiles which he used to talk to young people (PA)

The judge ruled Leighton was “clearly dangerous” and posed a risk to children in the UK and abroad.

Leighton blackmailed two British teenage girls and also sexually abused a nine-year-old girl living in the north east of England.

The FBI is investigating other victims Leighton may have targeted.

Leighton, 32, from Seaham, County Durham, was arrested in November by police investigating reports he had exchanged indecent images on Facebook.

When officers examined his phone they found evidence that as many as 100 children in North America had been abused.

Leighton said he did not do it for sexual gratification (PA)

The spray-painter appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where he was sentenced for blackmail, raping a child under 13, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs of a child, sexual assault, possessing cannabis, distributing indecent images of a child and possession of an indecent video.

Leighton set up multiple fake profiles of young girls on Facebook, then joined groups for teens.

He would make contact with them and get them to send indecent photos of themselves.

Leighton then used those images to blackmail them into attacking younger relatives, telling them they faced exposure to friends, family and schoolmates if they did not comply.

The paedophile even threatened the teens that he would go to the police if they did not do as he said, the court heard.

He threatened the boy in Florida, saying: “Block me, I immediately post them (the images). Do you want that? Do everything I say to her or I will.”

Andrew Rutter, defending, said Leighton was a cannabis user and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He added: “He protests it was not for sexual gratification but because it gave him a feeling of power to exercise the utmost control over other individuals.”

Gary Buckley, of the CPS, said the offences made for “chilling reading” for any parent.

He said: “The CPS was also able to successfully prosecute Leighton for the serious of rape, proving that he was as guilty in instigating the overseas offending as he would have been committing the crime itself.”

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