Tyne & Wear

Seaham rapist Paul Leighton's extradition sought by US

Paul Leighton Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Leighton created dozens of fake Facebook accounts to trap his victim

The extradition of a paedophile jailed for 16 years for sex offences involving teenagers in four countries is being sought by the US.

Paul Leighton, 32, of County Durham, admitted rape, despite being in the UK when the offences took place in the US.

Leighton tricked victims on Facebook into sending him naked pictures and blackmailed them to abuse relatives.

US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) anticipated his extradition over victims in Pennsylvania, it said.

The Home Office spokesperson said it would "neither confirm nor deny that an extradition request has been made".

'Campaign of rape'

It is believed as many as 100 children in North America were abused by Leighton.

The defendant, of Malvern Crescent, Seaham, created dozens of fake Facebook profiles to befriend teenagers in the UK, Canada, the US and Australia, Newcastle Crown Court was told.

He threatened a 14-year-old boy from Florida into repeatedly raping his one-year-old niece.

Prosecutor Paul Reid said it had been a "campaign of rape".

Leighton pleaded guilty "to the rape of this baby 4,000 miles away as he was using [the uncle] as an accessory", he said.

He admitted other offences, including blackmail, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs of a child and sexual assault.

The investigation that led to his arrest was led by HSI in a joint operation with Northumbria Police.

HSI London attaché James Mancuso said protecting children from exploitation took "the collaboration of law enforcement agencies around the world".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites