A paedophile police officer who incited more than 200 young girls to send him degrading pictures and videos of themselves over Snapchat has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years.
Lewis Edwards groomed 210 girls aged between 10 and 16 and forced them to send him indecent images of themselves that he secretly recorded.
He then blackmailed many of his victims with threats to tell their family and friends unless they sent increasingly graphic content – and even sent them videos of him performing sex acts upon himself.
The 24-year-old also threatened to bomb the house of one of his victims and shoot her parents if she stopped sending him images, Cardiff Crown Court was told.
Many of his victims have suffered at his hands – self-harming, feeling suicidal and developing anxiety and depression. One was so traumatised she slept with a hammer under her pillow.
Edwards, who joined South Wales Police in January 2021 and has since resigned, had previously pleaded guilty to 22 counts of blackmail, 138 child sex offences and a further offence of refusing to disclose the password to a mobile phone and USB stick.
The court heard all but one of the victims were abused while he was a serving police officer, and he targeted one teenager just 17 days after meeting her as part of his duties.
Investigators found that on 30 occasions, Edwards was in contact with his victims during working hours.
Detectives raided the home Edwards shared with his parents in Bridgend, South Wales, in February this year and seized mobile phones, a computer, USB sticks and a hard drive.
“The police investigation of the material accessible to them revealed the online interaction between the defendant and the victims in the indictments,” Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said.
“His requests for the girls to engage in various sexual activities ranging from exposing their breasts and genitalia to penetrating themselves with their fingers and objects, his recording and keeping of the images he obtained, and blackmailing of the children for more indecent images they refused to provide more images.”
The court was shown some of the videos Edwards had recorded of his victims and in one, a teenage girl can be seen crying and wiping tears from her eyes.
In a victim impact statement, the girl described Edwards as a “paedophile” and added: “I was a little girl. I feel embarrassed, disgusted and abused. I lost my innocence.
“I know the police are there to help us but how can I call the police now if I am in danger? I would not be able to trust the people who are there to keep us safe.”
In another clip, Edwards can be heard masturbating as he encourages his 12-year-old victim to do the same.
Several victims said their trust of the police has been shattered.
One girl said: “You are supposed to trust the police and he did this to me. I really hate him for what he has done.”
The mother of one child added: “The smirk he gave us in court shows that he has no remorse. I do not think he can or will have any understanding or care how he has impacted his victims.
“Lewis Edwards, I want you to know that as a family we will never forgive you and we feel nothing for you but hate.”
Edwards, of Heol Ty Cribwr, Cefn Glas, Bridgend, previously pleaded guilty to 161 offences, including blackmail, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, making a child watch a sex act, demanding indecent images of children, and making indecent images of children.
Susan Ferrier, defending, said: “Nothing I can say is capable in any way of making up to the victims of what Lewis Edwards has accepted by his guilty pleas.
“It was prolonged, shocking and predatory offending against young girls. When he started his offending no doubt it spiralled out of control and he couldn’t stop himself, knowing it was wrong.
“He knows that he faces a very long period of imprisonment.”
Edwards again refused to attend his three-day sentencing hearing and he was jailed in his absence.
Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, The Recorder of Cardiff, said Edwards gained “sadistic enjoyment” from the distress of his young victims.
She told Cardiff Crown Court: “These are extremely serious offences and the defendant is a prolific offender.
“He has caused significant harm to the victims, their parents, their siblings and their wider families.
“It is clear that he not only gained sexual gratification but he also enjoyed the power he had over the young girls.”
She described his behaviour as “cruel and sadistic”, adding that she found he was dangerous and posed a high risk of danger to children.