News

Court of Appeal case - Paul Leighton sentence increased

23 Nov 2017 13:34 PM

Paul Leighton [View Full Size]

A man convicted of 21 offences against children, including three charges of rape relating to a child in the US, has had his sentence reviewed at the Royal Court in London.

The Court of Appeal has today (Thursday, November 23) upheld the appeal and increased the sentence of Paul Leighton, 32, of Seaham to 20 years with an extended licence of seven years with a requirement to be on the sex offender's register for life. 

Leighton was originally sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court earlier this year in September after pleading guilty to a string of offences and jailed for 16 years, with a further six years on licence and was issued with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order with strict conditions stopping him from contacting children.

He was convicted of three counts of rape, two sexual assaults on girls under 13, four counts of causing or inciting grooming, three counts of making and two counts of distributing indecent photographs, three counts of blackmail, one count of assault on a girl under 13, and one count of possessing a class B drug.

Detectives in the specialist Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) originally investigated him after his phone was flagged up to national authorities as holding a number of indecent images. He was working in Sunderland at the time the offences came to light. Officers found that Leighton had been befriending school children online and asking them to send him nude photos.

He would then use the nude photos to blackmail the children in to committing sexual offences against other children, often younger siblings, or on themselves.

Leighton threatened to reveal the nude pictures to their families and friends if they did not comply, leading to the children carrying out the horrific abuse on camera, which Leighton kept stored on his mobile phone.

Detective Inspector Angela Hufton, of Northumbria Police Safeguarding Department, said: "We are pleased by the decision from the Court of Appeal and satisfied with the increased sentence handed down to Leighton.

"This man had planned and carried out truly horrendous crimes against children over a sustained period. Many of his victims are still suffering the terrible results of his crime and will carry this burden with them throughout their lives.

"Leighton used a mobile phone to commit these offences and the cover of fake social media profiles to carry out this catalogue of abuse.

"Our officers worked with Homeland Security in the US as the devastating scale of his offences fully emerged during the investigation. This latest court case again shows just how vigilant young people and their families must be to stay safe against such calculated criminal activity.

"An important part of the work of our neighbourhood officers is to regularly visit schools to give advice to young people about staying safe online. We'd also ask parents and other family members to be vigilant and to remind them of the dangers of contacting strangers online and sharing indecent images.

"We hope the many families who have been victims of Leighton will now feel that justice has been done and will be able to start to move forward with their lives.

“The internet and social media should be a safe platform for young people but this type of offending highlights just how dangerous it can be.

“People need to be vigilant and aware of the risks because cowardly predators like Paul Leighton do hide behind their computer screen and target vulnerable people.

“This case shows to you that we will find these individuals, we will put them before the court and they will be put behind bars for a long time.

"Our work to safeguard people will continue and we would say to anyone suffering on-line abuse to contact police straight away and let us help you."

Anyone who feels they have been a victim of a cyber-crime, or feels that they may have been groomed online, can contact police on 101 or Victims First Northumbria on 0800 011 3116.

Crime prevention advice about keeping safe online can be found on https://www.getsafeonline.org/