A paedophile has been jailed for raping a baby from 4,000 miles away using social media

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5 (100%) 2 votes

A British paedophile has been imprisoned after pleading guilty to a rape, which took place on a separate continent.

Paul Leighton, 32, admitted the rape of a one-year-old child in Florida, despite having been in the UK at the time.

The offence was conducted over the internet, a British court was told, with Leighton holding responsibility because he blackmailed the baby’s 14-year-old uncle into carrying out the abuse.

Leighton was sentenced to 16 years in prison at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, Northumbria Police said, after admitting to 14 sexual separate offences, including rape.

Leighton, who lives in Seaham, County Durham, pretended to be a girl and used fake Facebook profiles to start a relationship with his victim’s teenage uncle, a process known colloquially as “catfishing.”

According to police, Leighton carried out his abuse by soliciting nude photographs from his young victims, then threatening to send them to friends and family if they refused to send him more.

Some of his demands escalated into Leighton instructing his victims to commit sexual abuse on other children, as in the case of the baby raped in Florida. According to the BBC, authorities in Florida have charged the 14-year-old boy over the rape as well.

Leighton also admitted abusing other victims over the internet. Police said other victims include an American boy “in his late teens” whom he forced to abuse his 13-year-old sister in their home.

Another was a 14-year-old girl, also from the US, whom he blackmailed into recording herself performing “sexual acts” on her 13-year-old brother.

In total, Leighton was charged with the following 14 sexual offences, and pleaded guilty to all of them:

  • Rape – three counts (all against the baby in Florida)
  • Sexual assault on a girl under 13 – two counts
  • Grooming – four counts
  • Making indecent photographs – three counts
  • Distributing indecent photographs – two counts

He also admitted three counts of blackmail, a (non-sexual) assault on a girl under 13, and possession of a class-B drug.

Police phone Paul Leighton cropLeighton’s phone, which was seized by police investigators.Northumbria Police

Police say they caught Leighton after his phone was flagged on a national database for containing indecent imagery.

He was arrested and had his device seized, on which officers found a cache of illegal material.

He was prosecuted after a joint operation between Northumbria Police and the US Department of Homeland Security.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service told the BBC that prosecutors were able to secure a rape conviction against Leighton even though he was not physically present by “proving that he was as guilty in instigating the overseas offending as he would have been committing the crime itself.”

A defence lawyer for Leighton reportedly told the court that his client says his crimes were “not for sexual gratification” but because he craved a “feeling of power” over his victims.


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