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First person in England and Wales convicted of cyber-flashing

The first person in England and Wales to be convicted of the new offence of cyber-flashing is a 39-year-old man from Basildon in Essex.

Cyber-flashing became an offence on January 31 this year as part of the Online Safety Act.

Nicholas Hawkes sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on February 9, the CPS said.

The woman took screenshots of the image on WhatsApp and reported Hawkes to Essex Police the same day.

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

He was convicted at Monday’s hearing and was remanded in custody to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on March 11.

Sefer Mani, from CPS East of England, said: “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.”

Victims of cyber-flashing and image-based abuse receive lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences Act from the point they report the offence.

Hawkes is a registered sex offender until November 2033 after he was convicted and given a community order for sexual activity with a child under 16 years old and exposure last year at Basildon Crown Court, the CPS said.

He will also be sentenced for breaching the order when he is sentenced in March.