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Sunderland spray painter has 'too lenient' 16-year jail term extended for string of paedophile offences

Paedophile Paul Leighton.
Paedophile Paul Leighton.

A dangerous paedophile who orchestrated the rape of a baby thousands of miles away has had his "too lenient" jail term increased by senior judges.

Sunderland spray painter Paul George Leighton targeted teenagers in the UK, US, Australia and Canada online and tricked them into sending naked photos before blackmailing some of them into abusing relatives.

As the Echo reported in September, he also targeted two British teenage girls and molested a junior school pupil - for which he was on bail when he committed the crimes over the internet.

The then 32-year-old pervert, of Malvern Cresent, Seaham, admitted 23 offences including rape, blackmail, sexual assault of a child and possessing indecent images of children.

He was jailed for 16 years at Newcastle Crown Court in September and, after being condemned as a dangerous offender, was also ordered to serve an extra six years on licence following his release.

But his jail term was today increased to 20 years, with an extended licence of seven years, by judges sitting at the Court of Appeal, in London, who ruled his original punishment was too lenient for his "very grave" crimes.

Leighton, who appeared in court over a video link from prison, sat with his head down as Lord Justice Holroyde read out the horrific details of his offending.

The court heard he molested the junior school girl in 2014 and he was released on bail while a complaint to the police was investigated.

His mobile phone was seized and he was arrested in September last year after evidence was found of his other crimes.

He had created up to 40 fake Facebook profiles, which he used to contact children in the UK and overseas.

After befriending his victims by posing as young girls, he would send indecent images of young girls to them and coerce them into sending naked photographs of themselves back to him.

He would then turn nasty and threaten to expose them to their friends and family members if they didn't give in to his sickening demands.

In the most serious case, he blackmailed a 14-year-old boy in Florida into repeatedly raping and molesting his one-year-old niece.

Increased jail term welcomed by police and law chief

The boy was later prosecuted by the US authorities and is awaiting sentence.

He also blackmailed a teenage school girl in South Dakota into performing sex acts with her 18-year-old brother, who has also been prosecuted.

In another case, he threatened a teenage girl by sending a photograph of her school when she refused to send him a video of herself.

Officers in the UK discovered he had nearly 2,000 indecent images of children stored on his phone, along with eight extreme pornographic images.

His crimes were also investigated by the FBI after the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command alerted the authorities.

The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland, argued the sentence handed to Leighton was not long enough, given the serious nature of his crimes.

Lord Justice Holroyde said the offences were so serious they "came close" to justfying a life sentence but that the court could address the danger he poses to children with a longer extended sentence.

He added: "The offences involved the cynical manipulation of adolescent victims by communications over the internet, coupled with the use of blackmail.

"Some of the details make it obvious that a great deal of planning and preparation went into the internet offending.

"An example of this is the immediate ability of Paul Leighton to send to his victims photographs of their own schools, as a graphic reminder of what might happen if they didn't comply with his instructions.

"He called on some of his adolescent victims to commit serious crimes against other victims - in one case a baby and the overall picture in our judgment is one of very grave offending."