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Man, 39, becomes first person in England and Wales to be convicted of cyberflashing

A 39-year-old man has become the first person in England and Wales to be convicted of the new offence of cyberflashing.

The crime refers to the sending of an unsolicited sexual image to people via social media, dating apps, text message or data sharing services such as Bluetooth and Airdrop

Cyberflashing became an offence in England and Wales on 31 January as part of the Online Safety Act.

It has been a crime in Scotland since 2010.

Nicholas Hawkes, from Basildon in Essex, sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on 9 February, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

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

He later admitted two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation, at Southend Magistrates' Court.

Hawkes was convicted at a hearing on Monday and was remanded in custody to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on 11 March.

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Sefer Mani, from CPS East of England, said: "Cyberflashing 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 cyberflashing to report it to the police and know that they will be taken seriously and have their identities protected."

Hawkes was already a registered sex offender, and will remain so until November 2033, after he was convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16 and exposure at Basildon Crown Court last year.

He was also handed a community order, which he will be sentenced for breaching, alongside the cyberflashing offence, at his court appearance in March.

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