Paedophile police officer who blackmailed and groomed hundreds of young girls on Snapchat jailed for life

25 October 2023, 11:13 | Updated: 25 October 2023, 13:30

Lewis Edwards
Lewis Edwards. Picture: South Wales Police
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A police officer who incited more than 200 young girls to send him degrading pictures and videos of themselves over Snapchat has been jailed for life.

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Edwards, 24, incited more than 200 young girls aged between 10 and 16 to send him degrading pictures and videos over Snapchat.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke imposed 13 life sentences on Lewis Edwards, who refused to attend court, and ordered him to serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.

"Many of his victims and their families said his actions have caused them to lose trust in the police," she told Cardiff Crown Court.

"There is no doubt he has caused significant harm to the reputation of South Wales Police and policing in general but it should also be borne in mind that it was officers from South Wales Police who investigated this case and brought this defendant to justice."

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Lewis Edwards gained "sadistic enjoyment" from the distress of his young victims, she said.

She told Cardiff Crown Court: "These are extremely serious offences and the defendant is a prolific offender.

"He has caused significant harm to the victims, their parents, their siblings and their wider families.

"It is clear that he not only gained sexual gratification but he also enjoyed the power he had over the young girls."

She described his behaviour as "cruel and sadistic", adding that she found he was dangerous and posed a high risk of danger to children.

Detective Superintendent Tracey Rankine, head of the force's online investigation team, added: "Our priority has been to identify the victims from Snapchat usernames and work with police forces across the UK to ensure they are safeguarded and supported.

"The scale and seriousness of the offences identified by our investigation is extreme.

"His abhorrent behaviour involved threatening and blackmailing the young victims who lived in fear.

"Our investigation has involved forensically examining encrypted computer equipment and mobile devices which led to the recovery of shocking material.

"The strength of this evidence has resulted in Edwards admitting all charges."

A spokesperson for Snapchat said: "Any sexual exploitation of young people is abhorrent and our hearts go out to the victims in this case.

"We work in multiple ways to detect and prevent this type of abuse including using cutting-edge detection technology, and we work with police to support investigations. We have extra protections for under 18s and recently added a new pop-up warning for teens if they are contacted by someone who they don't know.

"Our Family Centre also allows parents to see who their teens are talking to.'

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