A man who sent a nude image of himself on WhatsApp pleaded guilty to two incidents of cyber-flashing, in the first prosecution of its kind.
Nicholas Hawkes, 39, from Basildon, Essex, has been convicted of cyber-flashing after targeting a woman and a teenage girl with pictures of an exposed penis.
He plead guilty to two counts, appearing in the dock at Southend Magistrates Court on Friday, February 9.
The Crown Prosecution Service introduced new powers to prosecute crimes less than two weeks ago.
These new powers cover the prosecution of cyber-flashing, sharing ‘deepfake’ nude images, and ‘down-blousing’.
In October last year, the Online Safety Act was passed into law, making it a criminal offence to send unsolicited images of genitals.
The cases are reviewed by prosecutors based on their impact on the victim, whether they are alarmed, distressed or humiliated.
They will also consider whether the person sending the photo did so to gain sexual gratification.
CPS’ Siobhan Blake said: ‘Women and girls should be able to go about their lives and daily commutes without being subjected to and bombarded with unwanted sexual images.
‘Our prosecutors are ready and committed to tackling this unacceptable behaviour.
‘We would encourage anyone who has been subjected to the illegal act of cyberflashing to come forward and report it.
‘This is a serious crime, and we will work with police to build strong cases against offenders who use technology to harass, distress and abuse victims for their own pleasure.
‘The Online Safety Act and our accompanying guidance will give prosecutors powerful tools needed to go further in safeguarding women and girls against predatory online behaviours.
‘These will also allow us to send before the courts and bring to justice those who hide behind computer screens and smartphones to carry out their abusive behaviours.’
Hawkes, who is already a registered sex offender, has previous convictions for sexual offences, which include two instances in the past year where he stripped naked in public.
The 39-year-old will be sentenced for breaching a suspended sentence order, which he will serve together with the two offences of cyber flashing.
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