Cyber-flasher sentenced to 66 weeks in prison in landmark legal case

​Nicholas Hawkes

Nicholas Hawkes has been sentenced to 66 weeks in prison

Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 19/03/2024

- 12:44

Updated: 19/03/2024

- 13:00

Nicholas Hawkes sent unsolicited naked pictures of himself to a 15 year old schoolgirl and a woman

A cyber-flasher has been sentenced to 66 weeks in prison in a landmark legal case, after sending unsolicited naked pictures of himself to a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

Nicholas Hawkes, 39, from Basildon in Essex, is now the first person to have been convicted and sentenced under the Government’s new cyber-flashing legislation, which only became law just over six weeks ago.

Prosecutors said Hawkes sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on 9 February, just 10 days after the new law came into effect.

The woman took screenshots of the image sent to her on the Whats App messaging service, and reported it to Essex police the same day.

Southend Crown courtNicholas Hawkes was sentenced at Southend Crown courtWIKICOMMONS

Hawkes was already a convicted sexual offender before his cyber-flashing offence, having been sentenced to a community order for sexual activity with a girl, under the age of 16.

He was also convicted of indecent exposure and put on the sex offenders register until 2033.

At Basildon Crown court on Tuesday, he was sentenced for the new cyber-flashing offences, but also for breaching his earlier community order.

Hannah von Dadelszen, the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England, said: “Cyberflashing is a serious crime which leaves a lasting impact on victims, but all too often it can be dismissed as thoughtless ‘banter’ or a harmless joke.

“Just as those who commit indecent exposure in the physical world can expect to face the consequences, so too should offenders who commit their crimes online; hiding behind a screen does not hide you from the law.

“Using the new legislation, our prosecutors worked to deliver swift justice – securing a guilty plea just four days after Nicholas Hawkes sent disgusting photos to his victims.

“The Crown Prosecution Service has delivered the first conviction for cyberflashing, but it will not be the last and I urge anyone who has been a victim of this shocking crime – whether via instant messages, dating apps, or by any other means – to come forward, knowing you have the right to lifelong anonymity.”

The CPS is urging anyone who feels they have been a victim of cyber-flashing to report it to the police.

As part of the new legislation, any victim of cyber-flashing and image based abuse receives life-long anonymity under the Sexual Offences Act.

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