Tragic mother warns of online risk
The mother of a 14-year-old boy murdered by a teenage gamer warned today of the "very real danger" posed by "online predators".
Lorin LaFave said she was "heartbroken and lost" after her son Breck Bednar was stabbed to death at a flat in Grays, Essex, on her birthday in February.
Computer engineer Lewis Daynes, 19, admitted carrying out the murder today after dramatically changing his plea on the day he was due to stand trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Barrister Richard Whittam QC told the court it was the prosecution's case that the murder "involved a sexual and sadistic motivation".
Speaking outside court, Ms LaFave said: "I am heartbroken and lost without my Breck and I will never be the same.
"He was murdered on my birthday this year and so much of me died as well. My poor triplets lost not only their adored big brother but also their mother.
"Breck was my amazing, clever, beautiful boy, a beautiful son who we will miss forever.
"He had so much potential that he will never now reach. He had so much to give to this world.
"I want Breck's tragedy to open the eyes of everyone to recognise the dangers of online predators. It is a very real danger today."
Fighting back tears, Ms LaFave thanked Breck's family and friends for their support and the police who "worked so hard on this tragic case".
The Breck Bednar Memorial Foundation has been set up to help raise money and awareness to help protect children, she added.
"I'll never stop missing my Breck," Ms LaFave said.
It is understood Daynes and his victim met after playing online video games together.
After his death, family members said Breck, from Caterham in Surrey, left home after arranging to meet a friend online.
He was found more than 30 miles away in Grays with a fatal stab wound to the neck on February 17.
Ms LaFave and the victim's father, oil futures trader Barry Bednar, who is originally from Houston, Texas, were both in court to hear Daynes's guilty plea.
Flanked by two security officers, Daynes, of Rosebery Road, Grays, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion during the hearing.
Dressed smartly in a grey suit with a white shirt and tie when he appeared in the dock, Daynes spoke softly as he replied "guilty" after the court clerk read the charge to him.
Mrs Justice Cox said Daynes would be sentenced on January 12.
Breck, who was a student at St Bede's School in Redhill, Surrey, was an air cadet with 135 Squadron and attended St John the Evangelist church in Caterham, his family said following his death. He was "extremely gifted in computing, electronics, and engineering", they added.
A message, posted on Facebook after Breck's death by a person claiming to be his cousin, said he turned to the internet after struggling to make friends.
"He ended up meeting someone who he thought wanted to be his friend," it added. "Breck told his father that he was going to his friend's house for a sleepover a couple of streets away, this wasn't a huge concern for his parents.
"He ended up taking a train down to Essex, about two hours away, to meet the man he had been talking to over the internet."
Following Breck's death, Surrey Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over a report it received last December from a family member relating to online activity.
Chris Curtis, headteacher of St Bede's School, said the school had been devastated by the "awful news" of the Year 10 pupil's death.
He said: "Breck was a bright and hardworking student who teachers describe as a real pleasure to teach.
"His tutor described him as a model student: a conscientious young man with a great deal of potential.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and with all affected."
Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Superintendent Tracy Hawkings said: "Lewis Daynes, 19, has today admitted the murder of Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old child. The prosecution alleges the murder involved a sexual or sadistic motivation, but this is yet to be determined.
"The full facts of the case will be opened on Monday January 12 upon which Daynes will be sentenced for this crime."
It is understood Breck's parents are taking legal action against Essex and Surrey police forces over their handling of the case.
An Essex Police spokesman said: "Essex Police have been notified of a civil claim against the force and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."
Assistant Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, of Surrey police, said that since the murder the force had reviewed its call-handling procedures and implemented changes to improve the way information was handled and shared.
He said: "This has been a tragic case and our thoughts remain with Breck's friends and family. In December 2013 a call was made to Surrey police by a relative of Breck expressing concerns around online grooming, and due to the prior contact the case was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
"They have since decided to conduct an independent investigation into the actions taken by Surrey police following this communication. We will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation."
A Surrey Police spokeswoman said: "We have received a civil claim but can't make any further comment."