A MAJOR new project aimed at helping to protect boys from online grooming has been launched in Thurrock.
Breck’s Last Game is a film based on the real-life murder of 14 year-old Breck Bednar in Grays in February 2014 by Lewis Daynes.
The film, which will be rolled out in secondary schools across the county, highlights the risks of grooming to teenage boys and asks the question ‘Do you know who your online friends really are?’
Daynes ran an online server where Breck, and several of his friends, played games online and it was through this forum that Daynes groomed Breck over 13 months – telling him a series of lies, turning him against family and friends, and eventually luring him to his flat on the promise of handing over a fake business.
Through the use of avatars, the film captures the events leading up to Breck’s death and also features the real 999 call made to police by Daynes.
The project is the work of an innovative collaboration between four police forces – Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Essex and Surrey – and has been made with the active support of Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave, who appears in the film as herself.
The film will be rolled-out in secondary schools across Essex.
Speaking at the launch of the film, Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet, said: “This is a really important project which highlights the dangers of online grooming and challenges the stereotypes of both victim and perpetrator.
“This isn’t a made up story. It’s what happened to Breck that ended in him being tragically murdered. There’s nothing sensationalised or made up.
“This really happened, and it happened here in Essex.
“Not all cases of grooming will result in someone being killed or sexually assaulted and not everyone online poses a threat. But, as Breck’s case sadly shows, the risks are all too real.
“This is not an issue we can shy away from – Breck’s death clearly shows us that the consequences of grooming can be absolutely horrific.
“I hope this provokes conversation in the classroom and at home about who young people are talking to online and how best to stay safe and I wholeheartedly endorse it.”
Daynes, who was 18 at the time of the offence, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial in November 2014 and was sentenced in January 2015 to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
School children in Surrey, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire will also be shown Breck’s Last Game as part of planned lessons over the coming months with a trailer of the film now available to view online.
The full version of Breck’s Last Games, which carries a warning that, if it were to be screened at a cinema, it would carry a 15 certificate, won’t be released publicly until Spring 2019 to enable it to be shown as part of planned lessons.
Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave said: “Breck’s story shows how easily grooming can happen. He met the predator through an online friendship group and would have been flattered to have an intelligent, older mentor helping him expand his gaming skills.
“At the time, I believed the offender was older than he was because he was so controlling and manipulative, even with me, so it’s important for young people to realise not only can predators lie about their age, where they live or who they are online, they can also be a similar age to the victim. They are not always the stereotypical ‘creepy old guy’.
“It’s so important for us to raise awareness of the fact that boys can be groomed too. Breck’s came after international media surrounding the Rochdale and Rotherham cases, where the victims were all girls. His version wasn’t the ‘typical’ type of grooming people had heard about in the news. His story shows even regular school boys can make mistakes if they aren’t educated to recognise the signs of grooming and exploitation.
“I hope through the Breck’s Last Game campaign, young people will take on the real life lessons from Breck’s story so they are able to look after each other, keep safe, and reach their full potentials. Our intention is to educate young people so they are empowered to make safer choices for themselves online”.