Former British police officer Lewis Edwards, 24, has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 12 years after pleading guilty to over 100 child sex offenses. Edwards targeted 210 girls between the ages of 10 and 16 by posing as a teenage boy on a phone app. He groomed the girls into sharing indecent images of themselves and then threatened and blackmailed them when they refused to comply.
Edwards, who joined the South Wales Police in 2021, committed the majority of the offenses while serving as a police officer. He was arrested in February and has since pleaded guilty to approximately 160 counts of child sex offenses and blackmail.
During the sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke described Edwards as a prolific offender who posed a high risk to children. She characterized his behavior as “cruel and sadistic” and stated that he gained sexual gratification from his actions while enjoying the power he had over the young girls.
Edwards was fired during a police misconduct hearing earlier this year, and his actions have caused significant harm to the reputation of South Wales Police and policing in general, according to Judge Lloyd-Clarke.
Snapchat, the California-based company whose app was used by Edwards to target his victims, stated that it employs various measures to detect and prevent this type of abuse, including cutting-edge detection technology and extra protections for users under the age of 18.
The sentencing hearing was attended by many of the victims and their families, although Edwards himself refused to attend.