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

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

The 39-year-old, from Basildon, was already a convicted sex offender when he sent unsolicited images of his private parts to a 15-year-old girl and a woman on February 9, the CPS 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 at Southend Magistrates’ Court to two counts of sending a photograph or film of genitals to cause alarm, distress, or humiliation.

He has been jailed at Southend Crown Court today for one year and three months.

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 last year being convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16 years old and exposure, for which he also received a community order.

On Tuesday he pleaded guilty to breaching the order and breaching a suspended sentence for another sexual offence.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “The sentencing of Hawkes today shows how a part of the new Online Safety Act is working to tackle online sexual abuse experienced by girls and women.

“No one should have to receive unwanted sexual images online. Cyber-flashing is a serious crime, and it is important cases like these are taken forward by law enforcement. 

“Thanks to a quick investigation, prosecution and sentencing the threat posed by Hawkes to women and children, both online and out on the streets, has been removed. We hope that anyone who has a similar experience feels able to speak out and receives the support they need.”