Man, 39, becomes first in England to be jailed for cyber flashing

By John Mercury March 19, 2024

A man has been sentenced for cyber flashing in England for the first time.

Nicholas Hawkes, 39, from Basildon in Essex, was jailed for 66 weeks at Southend Crown Court today after he sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on 9 February.

Cyber flashing became a criminal offence in England with the passage of the Online Safety Act on 31 January. It has been a crime in Scotland since 2010.

The offence covers the sending of an unsolicited sexual image to people via social media, dating apps, text message or data-sharing services such as Bluetooth and AirDrop.

Victims of cyber flashing get lifelong anonymity from the time they report the offence, as it also falls under the Sexual Offences Act.

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Hawkes previously admitted two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation, at Southend Magistrates’ Court.

He was already a registered sex offender and will be until November 2033, having been convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16 and exposure last year.

The older victim took screenshots of the offending image on WhatsApp and reported Hawkes to the police the same day.

Sefer Mani, from the Crown Prosecution Service in the East of England, said of the case: “Cyber flashing 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 cyber flashing to report it to the police and know that they will be taken seriously and have their identities protected.”

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