MANUEL Pons Sanchez, 46, was being hunted by the Spanish police for a series of sex attacks when he auditioned on the talent show in 2009.
Menorca-based Pons Sanchez carried out the violent attack in 2004, beating and biting the young girl before tying her to a bed and raping her, leaving her suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
He fled to the UK soon after. The attack was not reported until 2007, when the victim´s mother told Spanish authorities. An International Arrest Warrant was issued but Pons Sanchez thought he was safe from arrest, even more so in the UK.
In the UK, he resided in Liverpool whilst working as a porter for private firm Medirest at Whiston Hospital, whose staff were unaware he was wanted. Pons Sanchez made it to the bootcamp round of The X Factor. After hearing him sing U2’s With Or Without You, Cowell said: `Hey, Manuel, we like you. I don’t think anyone’s going to try harder`
Pons Sanchez also appeared on the ITV2 spin-off show Xtra Factor, playing Fawlty Towers character Manuel in a sketch with Holly Willoughby. Producers were unaware he was wanted in Spain.
It appears the Spanish authorities failed to notify their British counterparts, despite knowing in 2008 that Pons Sanchez was in the UK.
The Spanish Police saw a recording of the episodes which featured Pons Sanchez. After being recognised, he was captured and extradited to Spain. The British authorities informed he had no criminal activity while living in Great Britain.
In the trial at Palma de Mallorca Court, Pons Sanchez was jailed for 23 years and six months last for a series of attacks on the girl when she was aged between six and 10.