Man convicted of cyberflashing after sending picture of penis to 15-year-old girl on WhatsApp

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Feb 13, 2024 at 12:24 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

Shortly after cyberflashing became an offence on 31 January 2024, Nicholas Hawkes became the first person in England and Wales to be convicted of the crime, after sending a series of unsolicited pictures to a 15-year-old girl and a woman.

Cyberflashing became an offence in the UK this year as part of the new Online Safety Act, which places more responsibility on tech companies to remove illegal content, such aslike terrorism and revenge pornography.

The pictures Hawkes sent contained his erect penis. Upon receiving them, the unnamed woman took screenshots of the image on WhatsApp and reported Hawkes to Essex Police the same day.

The Crown Protection Service stated that Hawkes admitted at Southend Magistrates’ Court to two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation, as reported by The Independent.

Hawkes was convicted at a hearing on Monday 12 February and was remanded in custody to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on 11 March.

Cyberflashing involves sending sexual images to strangers online, usually through social media or dating apps. However, data-sharing services such as Bluetooth and AirDrop have given abusers further means to disseminate unsolicited pictures to the public. In some instances, a preview of the photo can appear on a person’s device—meaning that even if the transfer is rejected victims are forced into seeing the offensive image.

“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,” Sefer Mani, from CPS East of England stated.

Online sexual harassment and abuse is an ongoing issue in the UK. In January, UK police investigated a case involving a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly raped in the metaverse.

Hawkes was already registered as a sex offender after he was convicted and given a community order for sexual activity with a child under 16 years old and exposure. He will be a registered offender until November 2033.

Keep On Reading

By Malavika Pradeep

Dating app Bumble wants to criminalise cyberflashing in England and Wales

By Alma Fabiani

Woman speaks out after being ‘gang raped’ in Facebook’s metaverse

By Monica Athnasious

Another female researcher reports being virtually raped in Facebook’s metaverse

By Emma O'Regan-Reidy

What is demi method makeup, and what’s its connection to an alleged MLM scam?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Suella Braverman’s lifestyle choice remark sparks outrage amid growing homelessness crisis

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Oat milk vs almond milk: the ultimate showdown

By Charlie Sawyer

Video of teenage girls using makeup to put on blackface in Sephora goes viral

By Charlie Sawyer

Actor Jamie Dornan guiltily admits to stalking women in London. Here’s why

By Louis Shankar

Sorry everyone, but Saltburn is a car crash of a film

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Olivia Colman reveals she’d earn a lot more money in Hollywood if she were a man

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump to face trial in hush money case, as Fani Willis defends romantic relationship in Georgia case 

By Fleurine Tideman

Revving my engines: Can women find F1 drivers sexy and simultaneously enjoy the sport?

By Charlie Sawyer

Republican lawmaker censured for saying mass shootings are god’s punishment for abortion rights

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Meet Edward and Natalie Ortega, the parents of Wednesday actress Jenna Ortega

By Charlie Sawyer

Dan Schneider addresses accusations revealed in Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV 

By Abby Amoakuh

South Africa is challenging the Western-led world order with its genocide case against Israel

By Jack Ramage

We spoke to the viral Oompa Loompa girl about the Glasgow Willy Wonka experience

By Abby Amoakuh

Where is Melania Trump? Is the former First Lady hatching an escape plan?

By Charlie Sawyer

5 celebrity breakups that emotionally wrecked us in 2023

By Abby Amoakuh

Neuralink’s human implant success sparks fear for the future of society