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My son was murdered by an online groomer - our family will never be the same

SENSITIVE CONTENT: Lorin LaFave's eldest child Breck was lured to the flat of a 'friend' he met online and brutally killed. Here, she shares her family's story to help other parents and children…

Breck Bednar
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
On 23 March 2024
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On 17 February 2014, Breck Bednar, aged 14, from Surrey, was tragically murdered by then 18-year-old Lewis Daynes, an online groomer he had met while online gaming who he believed was his friend.

Lewis ran the internet gaming server that Breck and his school friends played on every day. He befriended the group and used lies and manipulation to gain their trust, eventually luring Breck to his Essex flat for a "day of gaming" and savagely killing him. Daynes pleaded guilty in court and was given a life sentence.

Breck's mother Lorin LaFave invited me to her home to talk about Breck and the important work she is doing to raise awareness of online dangers through her charity the Breck Foundation.

Lorin with her son Breck
Lorin with her son Breck

Lorin is an incredible, inspirational woman. 

Also mum to 22-year-old triplets, she has spent years travelling around the UK sharing Breck's story in schools, police departments and conferences, determined that other families shouldn't experience what her family has been through. Her foundation's focus is to help young people develop the skills and resilience to live and play online as safely as possible.

To add to Lorin's heartbreak, Breck was killed on her birthday. She tells me that she will never be the same person again, and as a mother to a teenage boy myself, I can only imagine her pain. It's a parent's worst nightmare.

Here, in her own words, Lorin tells us about her greatly missed son and the tragedy her family has endured, in the hope of helping others…

Lorin's story…

Breck was a typical schoolboy. Of course, he was super special to me, but in general, he was one of those guys at school who would crack a joke or laugh.

But he wasn't the class clown. He was popular, but he wasn't the most popular, nor was he the least popular. He was one of the guys who you just liked to have around. 

When he was young, people called him the boy genius, because of the way he could figure things out. Even when he was ten, he would take apart his whole computer and put it back together with components to make it go faster. It just came naturally to him.

Lorin's son Breck
Lorin's son Breck

He was also a good big brother to the triplets. I always think, poor kid, the triplets arriving rocked his world. He didn't know any differently at two years old when they came.

Breck was always teaching them. Some of the most beautiful pictures I have are of Breck teaching the triplets. 

He was kind and naturally a good person, and I think that's why he didn't see the evil in the world.

READ:  HELLO! launches new support hub 'Safer Spaces' to help keep children safe online 

Breck's gaming group

In year nine, Breck started a new school after we moved house following my divorce. There were a lot of kids he knew from primary school, so he slid right back into his old friendship group.

They invited him into their gaming groups, so he was gaming with his best friend from primary school, who was the son of the local vicar, and some of the other boys from the church. It felt like a really safe group and he was happy.

I asked Breck to keep his door open when he was gaming, and one day I could hear a voice coming out of Breck's room that I didn't recognise.

The voice sounded older. It didn't sound like Breck's normal teenage friends, and when I asked him who it was, he said, 'It's Lewis, mum, he runs the gaming group'. My mum instincts were telling me that he sounded like a creepy old guy, more mature, with a more 'in charge' kind of voice.

Breck said, 'These guys have been gaming with him for years. He runs a gaming group and he teaches us things. He's great with technology. He has an amazing career, his own business.' I asked, 'How old is this guy?' and he's like, 'He's 17'. I'm thinking, no way.

I just wasn't buying it, so I did everything I could to try to get to know who this guy was. I would go into Breck's room and say, 'Hey guys, what's going on?'

Breck would rush home from school, do his chores, do his homework and go online with the guys.

But even though Breck was clever, he didn't have life experience. He took the predator at face value, not realising that you can be, say or do anything online. He didn't see it, and all the boys within the gaming group fell for it.

Only the older ones in the group started not buying it and when they left the group, it made it more dangerous for the 13, 14, and 15-year-olds.

Breck on his laptop at home
Breck on his laptop at home

The groomer

Breck would sometimes game with headphones on, but not all the time, so when I went in the room, Lewis would chat with me. 'Hey, mum, how are you doing?,' he'd say.

Breck had three screens, including one for messaging and one with pictures of the guys or their avatars. But Lewis didn't show his face.

Breck said it was because of the important work that he did. He had to stay more discreet because he was doing undercover work. I would chat and so many things would pop up on the screen.

Lewis said he lived in New York, which is the time zone that I grew up in, but he seemed to be gaming with the boys at normal UK times.

I'd question Breck and he would say, 'That's because he works his own hours. He doesn't have to answer to the man. He's got this amazing job where he can do what he likes, when he likes.' All the boys said, wow, this sounds like a great job, perks and no boss.

So at the beginning, it was all happy and silly and fun. But I was worried straight away.

MORE:  Actor Jamie Lomas warns internet 'can be a very dangerous place' amid rise in online child grooming 

Life at home

I did have parameters for Breck, we had rules. I had wanted a big family and I wanted to enjoy our times together, we would celebrate everything.

Breck with his brother and sisters
Breck with his brother and sisters

Breck would say, 'Lewis says I shouldn't have to come to dinner because I'm not hungry yet. Lewis says I should be able to eat when I want to eat. Lewis says I'm a good boy. Why are you making so many rules for me? Lewis says I don't drink and I don't do drugs, why don't you trust me?'

And all of a sudden, Lewis became like this other parent who was complimenting him, telling him how great he was and trying to turn him against me and some of my rules.

I'm not that strict. I've got to have rules, but also if there was a friend in town, we'd break the rule. You know, we'd do something different. I could talk to my kids.

Breck was turned against the family

By now, Breck was being turned against every sort of establishment. He was being turned against education, religion, government, anything, even Air Cadets, which he had joined because he wanted to be a pilot.

Lewis would say, 'Why do you have to show up on time? Why do you have to wear a uniform? Why do you have to follow their rules?'

He made this almost utopian idea for the boys that if they were clever enough, if they followed his footsteps, if they let him mentor them, they would be like him and have this complete freedom and an amazing lifestyle with no parents, all the gaming you wanted and all the money you could have.

It was creating this idea of them going against the pattern we set out for them, which is what we try to do as parents, including education and family values.

As time went on, when I would go into the room to try to engage, instead of this predator speaking to me nicely, he wouldn't say anything, but mean pictures would appear on the screen.

A wicked witch would fly across the screen on her broom or Hitler would march across the screen. It all turned quite negative, and I continued to become worried.

The online safety rules they were being given as teenagers at school felt like baby rules to them, so of course, they weren't listening to them

Asking for help

I spoke to everyone I worked with at school about my concerns that Breck was being groomed. They said: 'All of our boys are online too much, that's what they all do. They all talk to strangers. That's normal nowadays. Wait till he meets girls, wait till he starts driving, he'll never be home. You'll wish he was back in his room. You won't know where he is once he gets a car.'

Nobody was even using the word grooming. It wasn't taken seriously because nobody had been trained about it. Even though we worked in a school, kids weren't taught how to keep safe online at home - they were only ensuring children were safe within school hours.

I was a school governor, and the priority was that we didn’t allow pornography or violent content pop up on school computers. But what we weren’t doing was teaching children how to be safe online.

The lessons they got were not adapted to their age or adapted to the times. It was, 'Don't talk to strangers and don't give out your important information. Don't show your school uniform'. 

The online safety rules they were being given as teenagers at school felt like baby rules to them, so of course, they weren't listening to them.

They weren't getting real information on understanding relationships and what a safe relationship looks like. They weren't being told what grooming looks like, what manipulation and control looks like. So of course, Breck just thought that Lewis was a friend.

Breck was a normal 14-year-old schoolboy
Breck was a normal 14-year-old schoolboy

READ:  How to talk to your child about online dangers 

MORE:  How to keep your children safe while online gaming 

Speaking to teachers and parents

I went to Breck's teacher and she looked at his reports. She said he was doing well, a clever boy and really nice to have in class.

Years later, I met up with his tutor again and went to speak at her new school. She said afterwards that she noticed Breck's personality had changed, he had pulled away from school, and had stopped raising his hand. At the beginning he was answering and engaging.

And as she said it, you could see the look on her face that she realised when he was being groomed. She realised it was right in her classroom; she sensed it with his personality changes.

I also went to other parents within the gaming group, the ones Breck knew from primary school. They were completely unaware of who their sons were gaming with and didn't seem to care.

I think people thought I was this paranoid American helicopter mum and they didn't take it seriously. So I said I wanted to get the parents together and organise a meeting to discuss it, because I was so worried.  

I wanted to talk to them, to ask if they had any rules in their houses or was it just Breck.

In the Murder Games BBC Three documentary about Breck which came out after his death, some of his friends and gaming friends spoke, and they said, 'We had the same rules. Our mums were calling us to come downstairs for dinner and we're like, 'Yeah, mum, we're coming.'

But for some reason, the predator focused on Breck and me, and tried to turn all the boys against me because I was the only parent that was standing up to him. The predator tried to diminish what I was saying.

Going to the police

I was so worried that I called the police to report the predator.  I used the word ‘grooming’ three times and anxiously explained my concerns.

I said, 'I don't know if it's something sexual or terrorism because he's turning them against religion, governments, and schools. They play violent games. I'm worried he's going to put some weapons in their hands and make them do some horrible mission in public.' 

And then I said, 'I'm also worried he might be training them to hack into school or government computers and wreak havoc.'

I think the police thought - whoa, she's all over the place. They said three times they would check police intelligence.

I gave them the predator’s real name as well as his alias. I gave them the age he claimed to be, which was at that point was 18, and I said I thought he was older and I gave them his location, Essex. They said they would check the records and get back to me.

The police's recommendation was to tell Breck to go on another website, which is ridiculous, because if you have kids, you know that they're not on one little dangerous website. They were on all sorts of gaming platforms and social media sites, it wasn’t a website I was reporting, it was a person who turned out to be a psychopathic killer.   

Then they suggested taking away his technology. So I got off the phone and took away his technology as a consequence of him being difficult to deal with.

He had stopped helping at home, or engaging with the family, as instructed by the predator. The ban was only meant to be for a week so that we could have some time out.

Breck was murdered by an online groomer
Breck was murdered by an online groomer

The intervention meeting

After I spoke to the police, I called his friends' parents, and said, 'We need to have an intervention meeting. I'm freaking out.' 

So we parents got the boys together and sat the boys down and calmly shared our concerns about Lewis.

Breck was instructed by Lewis to record the meeting on a little MP3 player that I missed when I took away his technology. He didn't use it that often, and the predator asked him to record it so that he could know exactly what we were saying about him.

I said, 'Breck, we're worried that you might be being groomed.' He said, 'That's a harsh term to say, grooming.' And then his dad says, 'Well, that's why we're worried, Breck. We want to meet this guy.'

The boys said he wouldn't meet up with us, we were too judgmental, it was kind of aimed at me. I said, 'Fine, have a guys' get-together, go have a coffee, the dads can even be at a different table. Maybe they can come say hello and you guys can hang out?'

They said, 'No, he'll never meet up. He doesn't like parents.'

So we looked at each other and we said, 'Okay, that's it. We're going to have to forbid you from gaming, socialising or speaking to this guy. We're sorry, but we know you love it there, but we don't know him, so you're going to have to go to a different place to game.'

They agreed they would game on another site that Lewis wasn't running.

Life seemed normal

We thought we fixed the problem because after the intervention Breck seemed to be back to his usual cheerful self and his normal personality returned.

We had a nice Christmas and he got his technology back with the caveat that he wasn't allowed to game with Lewis. 'I know Mum,' he said, and he sounded disappointed.

But predators don't give in, and he pursued the boys and continued an underground relationship. Lewis had sent Breck a new smartphone that cost £600.

I was a single mum at the time. No way did I give my kids smartphones when I didn't even have the newest version.

We hugged and said we loved each other, and he walked away so proud. I never expected that to be the last time I'd see him alive

Breck would have loved having this big brother type character giving him an expensive gift. I didn't see the phone physically arrive. I don't know when or where it was delivered. Maybe he went and picked it up, I'm not sure.

The predator also sent free software, free games, free upgrades online to the boys, so you couldn't track the gifts.

For me, that's one of the most important lessons as a parent – if you take away technology, you are pushing the behaviour underground, creating a more secretive and dangerous atmosphere

Lorin and Breck
Lorin and Breck

They were now spending time online in secret. Breck's room was just off the kitchen and I don't know how I didn't hear that voice because it was very distinctive.

In January, Breck and his school friends had an 'e-safety' assembly, and when I asked him about it, he rolled his eyes and said how boring it was.  The lessons just weren’t engaging, empowering, or age appropriate; they were the same dull messages they had heard time and time again.

By February, everything was normal and Breck was going on a Spanish exchange trip. When he left, everything felt fine. I was so proud of him because he was so confident, but not in a cocky way. He was brave and independent.

We hugged and said we loved each other, and he walked away so proud. I never expected that to be the last time I'd see him alive.

When I talked to Breck during the trip, he just said things like, 'I'm having a great time.' You could tell he was enjoying the culture, and even though we had been on trips before, this was his first time on his own. He said things like, 'The food is so good and the scenery is so beautiful.' This is what I want for my kids, to expand their horizons.

Losing Breck

Breck came home from Spain and it was his dad's weekend to have him, so he picked him up. Everyone noticed how happy he was because he had met a girl and he just had this confidence.

The day after he came home, he asked his dad if he could go to a friend's house. And his dad said yes.

Breck was lured to the predator's flat with the promise of a gaming afternoon, upgrading their computer technology and spending time together, having a pizza break.

He texted his dad and said, 'I'm having a good time, can I spend the night?' And his dad said, 'Yeah, be home by ten in the morning.' He just trusted Breck. We both trusted Breck.

Breck was killed on my birthday. I think the predator killed him on my birthday to punish me because his mum had abandoned him. And so, I got the call on my birthday. I will never be the same.

When I came home, I couldn't even see the triplets. I was so blinded by grief. I had this memory that they were all hanging on my legs. They were all clinging to me, but I couldn't help them.

The whole community helped us. People did everything that needed doing, whether it was looking after the pets or the kids or the laundry or the food or the appointments or the driving.

I couldn't drive for 18 months. I couldn't leave the house for about a year. I still struggle to cross the street because I don't trust my judgment. I have PTSD. It really messes with you.

The triplets lost their brother, who they adored and looked up to, but they also lost a normal mum. They knew where to find me. For the first year I would be in bed. It was obviously hard on them. I'm so proud of them; they're all doing so well.

I still find it hard to sleep. At night I have to force myself not to think about Breck being murdered. It kills me to think that in his last moments Breck would have thought, 'God, my mum was right,' when it was too late.

My dream is that his dad calls me, and I burst through the door with the police and stop him in time, because I fuck*** knew, I just couldn't convince anyone else.

I'll always be angry. I'll never forgive.

The predator's mum abandoned him at 11 years old and he went into care. Supposedly his caregivers were good and that went fairly well. He also lived with his grandmother part-time. As soon as he turned 18, he got his own flat and invited a boy over to murder. Sadly that boy was my beloved son.

One of the things we teach kids is that 'a friend of a friend' is not the same as your school friend

Police records

If the police had listened to me, Breck would be here. They should have checked the records. It was very simple: Lewis Daynes, 18 years old, from Essex.

He had all sorts in his record. He had groomed boys before in the States and the UK. He had indecent images of young boys on his computer, in the police records. He had hacked into the school computer to intimidate his victim, and that was in the records. He had also sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy. Lewis said it was a consensual relationship.

I was contacted by the mother of the boy who was assaulted. She knew Lewis personally because it wasn't an online relationship.

He was grooming the boy at school and manipulating and controlling him, and then forcing himself on him and saying, 'No one will believe you'. Sadly no one did. 

Breck Bednar
Breck Bednar

The Breck Foundation

I started The Breck Foundation to create awareness about what grooming is.

First, I went into schools to teach pupils about grooming through Breck’s story, and then it grew to educating police and anyone who works with children, I never expected to speak at so many conferences and events.  

I realised that schools needed to use harder hitting, real life stories to educate pupils about grooming. Some parents will say, 'I don't want my kids to be scared'. I say, would you rather they have a nightmare or would you rather they're abused or dead?

One of the things we teach kids is that 'a friend of a friend' is not the same as your school friend.

You don't actually know who someone is just because they're connected to someone else online. How many times have police found a predator who has infiltrated a school group, and it's because one child allowed them in, but nobody actually knows them?

Breck was one child, but how many have been harmed? Not necessarily killed, but sharing sexual images, abuse, blackmail, the lack of self-esteem after they've been manipulated and controlled, which leads to other mental health issues.

So many young adults have said these things were happening to them and they didn't know what to do about it. They say, 'We're so lucky that we made it through.'

One of my favourite memories was speaking at an all-girls school and about 300 girls came and gave me a hug goodbye afterwards. I've never had so many hugs in one day, and they were all crying. It was like their brother, their boyfriend, their pal. They all could relate.

The foundation also has a Breck Ambassador program with the police so that volunteer police cadets could train to become Breck ambassadors, then go into schools and be my voice. They tell Breck's story in an age-appropriate language, which is so engaging. We got so many awards for that programme because it was so needed.

Lorin's advice to parents

The happiest time of my life was when I had Breck and the triplets were young. I try to visualise the happy bits because I don't want to lose those or push those away.

None of my other children are gamers, although I do have one who's overly obsessed with posting on social media, and she has suffered. She's been contacted by all sorts of wannabe predators who are copycats of Breck's killer. In fact, we just went through a court case about this which has been tough.

People talk to me about online safety because what happened to Breck is a parent's worst nightmare. But I would never wish social media or gaming not to exist because it was one of Breck's favourite pastimes - it's about education and finding a balance with your children.

At The Breck Foundation, we talk about empowerment.

It's not just being educated on online grooming but standing up and doing something about it. We say don't be a bystander, be an upstander. If you see something happening with someone online, whether it's your best friend or someone you know, help them.

For more information about the Breck Foundation or to donate visit

Visit HELLO!'s dedicated online safety hub Safer Spaces here.

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