Man, 39, who sent explicit picture to teenage girl is jailed over first cyber-flashing offence in England

19 March 2024, 13:42 | Updated: 19 March 2024, 14:20

Nicholas Hawkes, 39, sent non-consensual images of his genitals to two victims - a 15-year-old girl and a woman - over WhatsApp and iMessage
Nicholas Hawkes, 39, sent non-consensual images of his genitals to two victims - a 15-year-old girl and a woman - over WhatsApp and iMessage. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A man who sent indecent unsolicited images to a teenage girl has become the first to be jailed for cyber-flashing crimes under new laws.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Nicholas Hawkes, 39, sent non-consensual images of his genitals to two victims - a 15-year-old girl and a woman - over WhatsApp and iMessage.

The convicted sex-offender was subsequently arrested by Essex Police, where he was charged, and later pleaded guilty to two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress or humiliation.

Hawkes has now today been jailed at Basildon Crown court for 66 weeks.

Hawke’s conviction is the first in the UK for this offence, which was introduced under new laws in 2023 through the Online Safety Act.

Basildon combined County and Crown Court
Basildon combined County and Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

Read More: PE teacher, 32, jailed for having ‘intense and passionate’ affair with female pupil, 16, banned from teaching for life

Read More: Teacher who sent lingerie pics to pupil and phoned him while drink-driving banned from classrooms

The investigation into Hawkes was launched on Friday, February 9 after Essex Police received a report that a woman and a teenage girl had been sent explicit images over WhatsApp.

Hawkes was arrested and quickly charged with two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm or distress.

As part of the sentence, he was convicted of breaching a suspended sentence order.

The convicted sex-offender must now comply with a 10-year restraining order and will be subject to a 15-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Cyber flashing became a criminal offence in 2023 following the passage of the Online Safety Act. It has been a crime in the UK since 2010, however.

The law covers sending unsolicited sexual images to people via social media, text messages, dating apps, or any data-sharing services - including Bluetooth and AirDrop.

As with all sexual offences, victims are entitled to life-long anonymity.

Read More: Paedophile teacher Kandice Barber who had sex with pupil in field freed from jail halfway through sentence

Read More: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pay surprise visit to family of teacher killed in Texas school shooting

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk KC, said: “Cyberflashing is a degrading and distressing crime which cannot be tolerated or normalised.

“We’ve changed the law so those who perpetrate these vile acts face time behind bars, and today’s sentence sends an unequivocal message that such behaviour will have severe consequences.”

Commenting on the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector James Gray said: “This result proves that we are able to thoroughly investigate all sexual offences, including those which have only recently been criminalised.

“Hawkes has proven himself to be a dangerous individual and our Crime and Public Protection Team have put hours of work into ensuring he is taken off the streets.

“Perpetrators may think that by offending online, they are less likely to be caught, however that is not the case. ‘Cyber-flashing’ has a detrimental impact on victims, and we will continue to investigate all reports of this offence.

“My main message here is to the perpetrators, people who think it’s acceptable to send these unsolicited photos without permission. It’s not and I ask those who think it is acceptable to reflect on their behaviour.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

A man has been shot dead in Kirkby

Man shot dead on residential street near Liverpool, as police launch murder investigation

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Strictly scandal deepens as footage showing ex-pro telling partner he will 'kill her' emerges

Liz Truss

Liz Truss accuses civil service of breaking impartiality rules after King's Speech files refer to 'disaster' mini-budget

Police found "over a dozen" firearms at Crooks' home

Thomas Crooks' father 'called police on the day of the Trump rally shooting'

Cameron Jones left his dying fiancee Demi by the side of the road

Moment driver flees from car wreckage leaving fiancee to die - before he later blames her for horror crash

Kim Johnson wants the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped

Labour MP calls for two-child benefit cap to be axed as she plans King's Speech amendment after policy retained

Adele has played 90 shows in Las Vegas

Adele announces she is stepping back from music after growing to ‘absolutely hate’ fame

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo

Two dead and two children in hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Two die and two children rushed to hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Locals have been warned to avoid the area

Locals warned 'do not open your doors' as huge fire erupts on Birmingham industrial estate

Joe Biden his facing pressure to step down ahead of November's election.

Joe Biden wrongly claims he will cap rent rises at $55 in latest gaffe

A man accused of killing two people and dumping their remains in suitcases by Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge and in a flat 116 miles away has appeared in court.

Man accused of killing two and dumping their remains in suitcases on Bristol bridge appears in court

King Charles III has outlined the government's legislative plans for the year ahead

Starmer promises ‘determined and patient’ rebuilding of politics after Charles delivers first King’s Speech

The family of seven-year-old William Brown who was hit by a van and left dying in the road "like an animal" have said they "forgive" the driver as he was sentenced.

‘William would forgive you’: Parents of boy, seven, share heartfelt message as son's killer is spared jail

David Fuller sexually abused the corpses of over 100 women and girls

More than 200 relatives of victims abused by necrophiliac killer David Fuller make compensation claims