Groomed and lured to his death: what drove online predator Lewis Daynes to kill?

Breck Bednar first became associated with Lewis Daynes via an online gaming community in 2013. The pair regularly interacted online. On 16 February 2014, Daynes invited Bednar to his home in Grays, Essex, insisting he lie to his parents about where he was going.

At 11am the next day, Daynes reported to a 999 operator that there had been an “altercation” between him and his guest, adding: “Only one of us came out alive.”

Police later determined that Bednar had been tied up with duct tape. His injuries included a fatal knife wound to his neck more than four inches deep likely caused by four separate motions, according to pathologists.

Daynes was charged with murder. Pleading guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court, he was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years.

Psychologist Dr Emma Kenny, who appears on Britain’s Darkest Taboos (Sundays at 9pm on Crime + Investigation), discussed the controversial case in detail exclusively with Real Crime…

In February 2014, 14-year-old Breck Bednar was groomed online by 19-year-old Lewis Daynes, who then brutally stabbed him to death in what would be deemed by prosecutors as a crime “driven by sadistic or sexual motivation.” How do online predators gain the trust of people via the internet and social media?

Daynes was an amazing manipulator. He was able to articulate different character roles and take on a certain character that was attractive to young boys, who were easily influenced, desperately trying to make something of themselves in the world, hoping and dreaming that there were amazing opportunities out there.

The thing about being online is you’re constantly, on the whole, searching for something, and this is why predators find you. Because it’s not hard to engage in a relationship where you’re each exchanging messages and you feel you know one another, you feel you’ve got somebody you can trust and empathise with.

Breck was somebody who had an incredibly supportive relationship with his mother, he was very well loved but still, as an adolescent young man, you’re searching for something, and there are things that only other young men can potentially give you.

Is it always about carnal urges? What is it that online predators are looking to gain from these ill-formed friendships and relationships?

Power – it always comes down to power. People like Daynes are individuals who like the art of manipulation. We know that the attack was sexually fuelled as well, but it’s about owning somebody else completely; it’s about being able to control another human’s actions. Daynes is an emotional junkie – he needs extreme gratification.

In Daynes’s context, this was about full control – it was about wanting to own Breck, wanting to manipulate him away from his family. It was about exerting that complete ability to hold another human being within their power and that’s what gave him that sense of gratification. Not only did he want to own him fully, he wanted to eradicate his own means to gain power; just a constant desire for complete control over human beings and an ability to do whatever you will, with that human being the puppet master essentially.

What does the nature of Breck Bednar’s injuries say about Lewis Daynes’s thought patterns? Was there pleasure or anger?

Breck, unfortunately, was his plaything, and in the most hideous and tragic of ways. Breck was dehumanised. It’s really important that when someone decides they want to murder another human being, [they mean] to almost eradicate their humanness. It gives them less reason to see the person and more reason to enjoy the experience. The more that he can make him less human, less of a child, the more able he is able to carry on those hideous crimes, and we see that in lots of situations with serial killers.

I have no doubt that Lewis Daynes is definitely a serial killer in the making – that’s the kind of human being he was. We also know that because he wanted people to see his work. It’s not enough just to do the crime and be gratified by it, you need to then have other people see it. They need to bear witness so that you then have power in that world as well.

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