Nicholas Hawkes: man becomes first person to be convicted of cyberflashing in England and Wales
A 39-year-old man has become the first person to be convicted of cyberflashing in England and Wales after sending unsolicited sexual images to people, including a teenage girl.
Nicholas Hawkes, from Basildon in Essex, sent the images via social media, text messages, dating apps and via data transfer software such as Bluetooth and AirDrop. He sent unsolicited images of his erect penis to a woman and a 15-year-old girl on February 9, according to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The woman made the initial report to Essex Police, having screenshotted the message she received on WhatsApp, on the same day she received the image. During a hearing at Southend Magistrates' Court on Monday February 12, Hawkes admitted to two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation.
The 39-year-old was convicted of the charges and has been remanded in custody. His sentencing is expected to take place at Basildon Crown Court on March 11. Hawkes was already on the sex offenders' register and will remain on the register until November 2033 after he was convicted of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 and exposure during a trial at Basildon Crown Court last year, the CPS said.
Cyberflashing became an offense in England and Wales on 31 January through the Online Safety Act. Cyberflashing perpetrators could face up to two years in prison if it is found that the perpetrator sent the images with the intention to cause distress, alarm or humiliation, or to gain sexual gratifications. Cyberflashing has been illegal in Scotland since 2010.
Sefer Mani, from CPS East of England, said: "Cyberflashing is a grotesque crime and the fact we were able to deliver swift justice for the two victims shows the new law is working. Everyone should feel safe wherever they are and not be subjected to receiving unwanted sexual images. I urge anyone who feels they have been a victim of cyberflashing to report it to the police and know that they will be taken seriously and have their identities protected."