Lewis Daynes trial: The internet predator and a PowerPoint presentation that almost proved fatal

Lewis Daynes was found guilty of grooming and killing a 14-year-old-boy this week. But another teenager had a lucky escape

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The Independent Online

A computer engineer who has pleaded guilty to murdering a schoolboy after luring the 14-year-old to his home used the internet to manipulate another teenager into inviting him to live with his family in the US, it is claimed.

“John” was 13 in 2010 when he was chosen by Lewis Daynes – who admitted to killing the British teenager Breck Bednar earlier this week – to work for the server company he established to host games such as Minecraft and Call of Duty.

In just a few months the pair had become so close over their shared passion for video games that John, whose identity The Independent has chosen not to disclose, put together a PowerPoint presentation to explain to his parents why Daynes should come and live with them in America.

In the slideshow, titled “Why Lewis Should Live With Us, By: Your Son”, John describes Daynes as “a strong young man that would be more than willing to help” and that “he is responsible, super nice and helpful and you can trust him”. John pleads: “Let Lewis come over and to get to know him better. Whenever we are Skyping or talking, get on with me and join in and talk to him with me so you can get to know him better.”

The American teenager called Daynes his “virtual brother”, adding that he “needs a place to stay (imagine if you were in his position)”.

A slide from the PowerPoint presentation made by John

John had a lucky escape. Breck, killed on his mother’s birthday in February, was groomed by Daynes through an internet forum where they talked about their shared obsession for video games. Breck left the £600,000 family home in Caterham, Surrey, on 16 February, saying he was going to a sleepover at a friend’s house. Instead, the comprehensive school pupil, described as a bright churchgoer, took the train to Daynes’s home in Grays, Essex, 30 miles away. Breck was stabbed in the neck and killed in what the prosecution described as a “sexually or sadistically motivated attack”.

Daynes, 19, showed no emotion when he dramatically changed his plea on the opening day of his trial this week – meaning Breck’s parents, teaching assistant Lorin LaFave, 47, and Barry Bednar, 50, an oil trader, may never know why their son was murdered by the disturbed loner.

However, Daynes’s seeming history of grooming other children on the internet – including John – has now been revealed by Paul Suchko, a 16-year-old in Pittsburgh who was an administrator with Daynes on the killer’s server company, Starfield Hosting Solutions. “One of the admins Lewis hired became very good friends with him,” Paul, now 16, told The Independent from his home in Pittsburgh. “John was 13 at the time and the pair spent a lot of time on Skype.”

He said: “At one point John was going to have Lewis come over to America and stay at his house for a week. I had grievous concerns about this [because] Lewis seemed to be manipulating John by lying about himself and things he had been accused of.

Lewis Daynes admitted murdering 14-year-old Breck Bednar (pictured) this week (PA)

“In retrospect John’s story seems to be following a similar path that Breck’s did before he was killed. Once again reading Breck’s story sends shivers down my spine because Lewis manipulated Breck to stay with him in the same way Lewis manipulated John.”

Fortunately, John’s parents vetoed the idea. Paul and John soon decided to drop all contact with Daynes and his company following his increasingly bizarre behaviour, which included a lawsuit threat against the pair and cyber-attacks once they set up OrbitBlade, a Minecraft server company of their own.

Tony Neate, chief executive of the Government-sponsored charity Get Safe Online, warned parents of the dangers of the online gaming world. He said: “For parents in particular, there is an element of obliviousness about the online gaming world their children may be entering and the security risks. With online gaming, there are minimal restrictions, meaning anyone with access to a gaming account from anywhere in the world can potentially make contact with other players using that game.

“Due to this mass accessibility, it could be seen as an easy target for predators with sinister motives to make contact with young gamers. Young people must always be on their guard against random friend requests and make sure they protect their identity.”

Daynes will be sentenced in January. Breck’s mother, who has warned of the dangers of online predators, is suing Essex and Surrey Police for the way both forces handled her concerns expressed to them about online grooming relating to her son two months before he was killed. The Essex case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A day that should have seen Breck return home to celebrate his mother’s birthday turned into one of unmitigated grief for the family, who have set up the Breck Bednar Memorial Fund “to honour our beautiful boy”. Adorning the website are seven pictures of Breck from baby to teenage air cadet. They write: “Breck was extremely gifted in computing, electronics and engineering. We are all in shock and are so grateful for the thoughts and prayers of friends and family.”