Man Receives First Sentence For ‘Cyberflashing’

An Essex man, 39, has made history in the United Kingdom by being found guilty of “cyberflashing,” the practice of transmitting naked images of oneself to an unsuspecting victim.

Less than thirty days after cyberflashing became a crime on January 31, the event happened on February 9. A 15-year-old schoolgirl was one of the victims that Hawkes, who was already a convicted and registered offender, shared unsolicited photographs.

Another recipient of his crude picture was a 60-year-old woman who reported Hawkes to the Essex Police the very same day she captured screenshots of the photo on WhatsApp.

According to testimony given at Southend Crown Court, Hawkes had requested his father’s phone earlier that day to contact his probation officer. He then walked to another room and transmitted the explicit photo over WhatsApp on his phone.

“Overwhelmed and crying” was supposedly the reaction of the youngster he sent an explicit photo to over iMessage minutes later, all on the same smartphone.

Hawkes has a history of convictions for exposing and engaging in illegal conduct with a minor. After being abducted, stabbed, and held for a ransom of £5,000 sought from his father when he was 31 years old, Hawkes’ crimes, according to the court, have been solely prurient.

The argument proffered by Barry Gilbert, the defense counsel, was that Hawkes did not derive any erotic satisfaction from his criminal behavior. The claim that he isn’t “satisfied” was, however, denied by Judge Samantha Leigh. According to her, Hawkes has a distorted perception of himself and his urges, and he is quite troubled.

In a prior appearance before the Southend Magistrates’ Court, Hawkes confessed to two charges of distributing a picture or video of genitalia with the intent to cause distress, embarrassment, or fear. On Tuesday, he entered his guilty plea for violating his prior order and a suspended term for a separate prurient offense. He will spend sixty-six weeks in prison for his most recent crimes, with the option to serve half of that time on parole.

Offenders engaging in cyberflashing may transmit explicit images to victims over several online platforms, including social networking, dating apps, Bluetooth, and Airdrop. After reporting this or any other kind of image-based abuse, victims are guaranteed, by law, permanent anonymity.