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First person in UK convicted of cyber-flashing jailed

The first person in England and Wales to be convicted of a cyber-flashing offence has been jailed for 66 weeks.

Nicholas Hawkes was convicted under the Online Safety Act after cyber-flashing became an offence on 31 January this year.

The 39-year-old, from Basildon, Essex, was already a convicted sex offender when he sent unsolicited images of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on 9 February, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

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

Hawkes admitted during an earlier hearing to two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation. He was jailed at Southend Crown Court.

Cyber-flashing can involve offenders sending people an unsolicited sexual image on social media, dating apps, Bluetooth or Airdrop.

Victims of the offence and other image-based abuses receive lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences Act from the point they report it.

Hawkes was already on the sex offenders register until November 2033 after being convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16 years old and exposure, for which he also received a community order.

He pleaded guilty to breaching the order and breaching a suspended sentence for another sexual offence.

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