Their teenage son’s violent death at the hands of an online groomer will haunt a family forever
and will also resonate with parents and children in Ireland, writes Cormac O’Keeffe
Lorin LaFave has a recurrent dream in which her 14-year-old son is still alive.
Police call to their house and tell her son Breck the truth about his supposed online friend Lewis Daynes.
“In my pretend dreams, police would come over to the door and say to Breck, ‘your mum is right’,” said Lorin.
“He would finally believe me and my son would be here. I would be a productive human being, instead of what I am now, a shell of a human being.”
One day in February 2014, Breck had his neck slashed at the hands of Daynes and his life was extinguished.
The harrowing story of British teen Breck Bednar — and the menace posed by online grooming — was revealed in a searing BBC3 documentary, Murder Games , earlier this week.
It’s a terrifying tale that will resonate with parents and teenagers in Ireland.
When Breck joined an online gaming club, after being invited by his friends, things were going well.
He was a grade A student, with a precocious talent for technology and computers, and had a tight group of friends in Surrey.
“I thought it [the gaming club] was cool,” his dad, Barry told the programme. “It looked like they were all in a club house, talking and sharing clips.”
Lorin said Breck’s bedroom door was always open: “You could always hear him before you could see him, his deep voice and giggling away.”
She said there appeared to be nothing sinister.
She said her son really looked up to Daynes, who owned the server. Unknown to others, he had 400 young boys in his club.
Friends of Breck in the gaming club said they were all “in awe” of Daynes’s technical ability. They were all aged 13 to 14, while Daynes was 17 at the time.
Daynes told them he ran his own computer and technology company, travelled the world, and did security work for the US state.
When Lorin would go into the room, Daynes would be chatty, unlike the other friends who would go quiet. When she asked him why he was not out on a Friday or Saturday night, he would deflect her questions.
As the months passed, he was having more of an influence over Breck.
“Grooming can be subtle,” said Lorin. “It’s not always sexual, there’s a lot of compliments and a lot of attention.”
After six months, he was speaking to Breck on a private channel and praised Breck’s technical ability and boosted his confidence.
“He was telling Breck not to listen to me, telling him you don’t need to do this or that,” said Lorin.
In December 2013, she decided to have an online chat with Daynes, who gave out to her for telling Breck to do household chores.
Lorin met with Breck’s father Barry (they separated in 2006) and forbade Breck to speak to Daynes again. She took away her son’s computers.
She also rang the Surrey police and gave them Daynes’s name, said he was 18, and lived in Essex. “I was told they would check the system,” she said.
Meanwhile, Daynes had couriered a phone to Breck and, later, Breck got his computers back.
After Christmas, Breck went on a trip to Spain. When Barry collected him from the airport, he asked could he go to a friend’s and hang out and told him who the friend was.
Barry said he was glad he was meeting a friend in person, not online, and agreed.
He and Lorin didn’t know a taxi had been pre-booked (paid for by Daynes) to bring Breck the 50km to Daynes’s Essex flat.
It subsequently emerged that Daynes had told Breck he was very ill and wanted to hand over his company to him, and to come over.
Barry said that every day he tells himself he should have done more to protect his son: “Deep down, it is my responsibility, I let him go to his death. It will haunt me forever.”
Breck was restrained with duct tape and fatally stabbed in the neck by Daynes.
Lorin said her “heart breaks” thinking about what happened and has constant nightmares.
What makes it worse was that Daynes was known to the Essex police. He had been accused of raping a 15-year-old boy in 2011, but was not charged.
In January 2015, Daynes, aged 19, was sentenced to life for Breck’s murder with sexual and sadistic motivation.
Lorin said the only thing that keeps her going is her triplets, Carly, Chloe, and Sebastian. That and preventing the same tragedy befalling others, resulting in the Breck Foundation.
“There is so much more we need to learn about grooming,” she said. “Groomers are chameleons: they will do whatever they need to do. I feel my job is to get the word out.”
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