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Met PCs jailed over pictures of murdered Wembley sisters

·10-min read
Deniz Jaffer (left) and Jamie Lewis pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office  (PA Wire)
Deniz Jaffer (left) and Jamie Lewis pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office (PA Wire)

Two Metropolitan Police officers who took sickening pictures of the bodies of two murdered sisters and shared them on WhatsApp have been jailed.

PC Deniz Jaffer, 47, and PC Jamie Lewis, 33, had been assigned to guard the scene overnight after Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found dead in bushes at Fryent Country Park in Wembley.

Instead of manning the cordon properly, the officers took images of the dead bodies which were shared them with colleagues, while Jaffer sent pictures to members of the public.

The officers referred to the murdered sisters as “dead birds”, while Lewis even added an image of his own face in a “selfie” style to one of the images.

The court heard the actions of Jaffer and Lewis had compromised the integrity of the murder scene, allowing the killer, Danyal Hussein, to argue at trial that DNA evidence against him might not be trustworthy.

Speaking outside court, their mother Mina Smallman said she was “thrilled” the officers had been jailed and not received suspended sentences.

Mina Smallman speaking outside court (PA)
Mina Smallman speaking outside court (PA)

She told reporters: “We’ve been to hell and back again.“So, we have not even dared to dream what it’s going to feel like not having this hanging over your head.”

On whether the case represented an ending, she said: “No, there is more work to be done. The most important thing, because of the sentencing we are part of the change that’s going to come in the culture of the police force.“Most of our police force are amazing and do an amazing job, but there is an element that has taken over the culture of how they banter.”

Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Recorder of London, sentenced Jaffer and Lewis on Monday to two years and nine months.

He said the officers may have been seeking a “cheap thrill, kudos, a kick, or some form of bragging rights” when they shared the images.

“The public expects, and rightly so, the highest of standards from police officers and I’m sure there will be many thousands of officers in police forces in this country and abroad who are utterly horrified by your actions - it’s appalling and inexplicable conduct.”

The judge said the messages they sent to each other and colleagues were “utterly disgraceful, showing a complete lack of showing any dignity to people in death”.

In victim impact statements, family members described the defendants as a “disgrace” to the police family and to mankind.

The women’s mother, Mina Smallman, said the officers’ actions were a “betrayal of catastrophic proportions” and a “sacrilegious act”.

She said: “Jaffer and Lewis callously and without any regard for our dead girls’ bodies committed, to my mind, a sacrilegious act.

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman taken from Bibaa’s phone (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)
Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman taken from Bibaa’s phone (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)

“We were told ...the police officers whose task it was to protect and preserve the crime scene had, in fact, for their own amusement, took selfies, posing for pictures with our dead daughters.

“We were horrified. I had never heard of anything so macabre.

“Those police officers felt so safe, so untouchable, they felt they would take photos of our murdered daughters. Those officers dehumanised our children.

She added that the actions of the officers amounted to “pure misogyny”.

Jaffer and Lewis had arrived at the murder scene at around 3.30am on June 8 last year, manning the inner cordon close to the bodies while a junior female officer, PC Asprogenis, was stationed a little further away.

Ms Henry, 46, and Ms Smallman, 27, had been murdered by 18-year-old Hussein, who believed he was fulfilling a Satanic pact by “sacrificing” women in exchange for a lottery win.

The killer – now serving a life sentence - ambushed the two women in the park in the early hours of June 6, as they danced together while celebrating Ms Henry’s birthday.

He dragged the bodies into the undergrowth in a bid to conceal the murders, leaving the two women laying side by side where they were discovered by Ms Smallman’s distraught boyfriend around 36 hours later.

PC Asprogenis saw Jaffer and Deniz leaving their posts on the murder scene cordon and talking to each other, and then they approached her to say “there were two bodies lying in a bush close to where PC Lewis had been posted”, said prosecutor Joel Smith QC.

PC Asprogenis, who had just two months of policing experience, was shown the bodies by Lewis, who shone a spotlight into the bushes, and then she returned to her own post.

“After PC Asprogenis returned to her own post, she received a WhatsApp messages from PC Jaffer containing four photographs of the deceased in situ, one of which had PC Lewis’s face superimposed on it in a ‘selfie’ style”, said Mr Smith. “PC Asprogenis deleted the images from her camera roll.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Between 5am and 6am, the officers went on a refreshment break and Jaffer showed another officer, PC Wilson, a photo of the dead women on his phone.

Jaffer later showed an image to a probationary officer at Forest Gate Police Station, who told him it was inappropriate and said she was “shocked and disgusted”.

On June 19, the IOPC received an anonymous tip off about Lewis’ activities at the crime scene, and after the officer’s arrest analysis of his phone showed he had taken two images of the murder scene and Jaffer had taken four pictures.

Both Jaffer and Lewis were members of a Met Police officers’ WhatsApp group called the “A Team”, while Jaffer belonged to another group labelled “Covid c**ts” with members of the public.

Messages showed Jaffer had told the “A Team” he was ‘living the Wembley dream’ after posting a news article about the murders, sending pictures of the park before commenting “unfortunately I’m sat next to two dead birds full of stab wounds”.

Jaffer, to his friends group, said: “I’m here now, will try to take pictures of the two dead Birds”, and then followed up with an image of the two women with the comment: “This is my view now”.

Lewis sent the doctored “selfie” shot to Jaffer at 4.42am, as they exchanged images in a flurry of messages.

Just after 7am, Jaffer offered to send images of the two women to a member of the public, and told the man erroneous details about the murders: “Both stabbed to death in broad daylight and dragged under trees. One is 14 and the other is 20, she was pregnant.”

Deniz Jaffer (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Deniz Jaffer (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

At 9.05am, Jaffer was asked if the murder scene is “bad” and he replied: “Not really, I’ve seen worse.”

In a police interview, Lewis claimed he was “ninety-five per cent sure” he had not taken pictures himself and minimised his involvement, insisting the ‘selfie’ shot had been created by accident.

Jaffer claimed he had taken images - zooming in – because he was “concerned at the prospect of animals disturbing the scene and so took the photos to protect himself against any suggestion that might be made later on to the effect that he had interfered with the scene,” said Mr Smith.

Jaffer, who joined the Met in March 2018, claimed he distributed the images on WhatsApp to warn friends of the “dangers that were around”.

Members of the family of Ms Smallman and Ms Henry, including mother Mina Smallman, were in court for the sentencing hearing. The Venerable Ms Smallman had previously called the officers “despicable”.

Jaffer, from Hornchurch, and Lewis, from Colchester, Essex, who were part of the Met’s North East command unit, were suspended from duty after their arrests on June 22 last year. Jaffer resigned before a misconduct hearing, and Lewis was dismissed by the Met.

“The bodies of the women would not have been visible from the path adjacent to the large bush where they were found,” added Mr Smith.

“Nor would it have been possible to take the photographs taken by the defendants from their position on the cordon.

“Accordingly, to take the photos found on their phones, the officers would have had to enter the bush itself, thus risking contamination of the crime scene.”

At Hussein’s trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC had to reject any suggestion that the PCs had touched the bodies and possibly contaminated DNA evidence. “(Their) behaviour in leaving the cordon and in taking and sharing photographs of Bibaa and Nicole was despicable,” he said.

“It is no part of the Crown’s case to defend them for what they did: they have been charged and, if convicted, they will never wear a police uniform ever again.

“But their disgusting lack of respect does not mean that you are entitled to conclude that they contaminated the crime scene or that the swabs taken from Bibaa and Nicole’s ankles are in some way compromised.”

Neil Saunders, for Jaffer, said the former PC has repeatedly offered his apologies to the family and friends of the two sisters.

“Describing the two sisters as he did was shameful. Taking the photographs of them, even more so. He recognises how totally disrespectful that was”, he said.

“He acknowledges what he did was wrong. He has let down himself, his family and friends, and – he acknowledges as well – the wider police service of which he was a member at this time.”

The barrister added Jaffer acknowledges he caused of “loss of dignity in death” by the sisters, after the officer “acted without thinking”.

“It was poor and disrespectful, and something this defendant deeply, deeply regrets”, he said. “He acknowledges he can’t right the wrong. He failed to recognise at the time the pain and suffering that can be caused if exactly this came about.”

Mr Saunders said the ‘Covid c**ts’ group was not named by Jaffer, and comprised close friends – with an even male and female split - who had previously holidayed together.

“He didn’t believe anyone would further publish the photographs”, he said. “He never intended it to go past the few work colleagues and a select number of the closest friends.”

Luke Ponte, for Lewis, said the officer has now been left with “life-long shame” and also argued for a suspended prison sentence.

“He did not - as has been widely reported - take a selfie photograph with himself in the foreground and the bodies in the background”, he said.

“He committed an act of outrageous disrespect, but it was not that act. He was sent an image of the bodies, with a few clicks of a button on his phone that took no expertise, minimal thought, he opened an App, took a photo of himself which was superimposed on to the image that was sent to him.

“That was a grotesque thing to do, but the image was an artifice and didn’t correspond with a moment of reality.”

Lewis, who became a police officer in July 2018 after a career as an estate agent, served with the British Transport Police before joining the Met.

He wiped away tears as Mr Ponte described him as a “loving father” to his children.

After the sentences were passed, the Metropolitan Police apologised to the sister’s for the “shameful” and “utterly unprofessional” actions of Jaffer and Lewis.

Assistant commissioner for professionalism Helen Ball said: “Our thoughts are once more with the family and friends of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. I am so sorry that during the most difficult time in their lives the actions of these two officers caused them so much additional pain and distress.

“Today former Pcs Jaffer and Lewis have been punished for their actions which were utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive.

“All of us in the Met and wider policing are horrified by their shameful behaviour.”

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