Two Metropolitan police officers have admitted sharing photos of the bodies of two murdered sisters on WhatsApp after being tasked with guarding the crime scene.
PC Deniz Jaffer, 47, and PC Jamie Lewis, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday to misconduct in public offices at Old Bailey.
The court heard that both men were given the task of guarding the cordoned-off area where sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were found dead in bushes in Fryent Country Park in Wembley.
The constables were stationed at the barricade overnight on June 7, 2020 and took pictures of their bodies after entering the crime scene without permission.
The court heard that Mr Jaffer sent information about his participation to members of the public on WhatsApp, took pictures and then shared them with other police officers and members of the public.
Mr. Lewis also posted information about his participation to members of the public on WhatsApp, took photos and then shared them with other police officers.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC, Recorder of London, said it was “extremely likely” that officers would be jailed.
He said they had been assigned their duty to preserve the scene where Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Smallman had been found stabbed to death.
“You took pictures of the bodies, you put someone else’s face on top and sent the photographs to others,” Judge Lucraft told officers.
“These conditions are extremely serious … it is highly likely that you will receive prison sentences of a certain length.”
The mother of the victims, the venerable Mina Smallman, condemned the officers as “Despicable 1 and Despicable 2”.
She said: “Our family’s grief was further exacerbated by the detainees, who will now be known as Despicable 1 and 2 – any inner strength I had reserved had been torn away.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said both Jaffer and Lewis had left their posts and “approached the murdered women – at risk of contamination of the crime scene – to take pictures of them on their phones”.
Lewis edited one of the images by superimposing his own face on the photograph with the victims in the background.
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He sent the picture to Jaffer, who then unsolicitedly forwarded it to a female officer who was also present at the scene.
CPS said Jaffer also showed one of the photos of the victims to a male officer as they left the park, and later with three friends on WhatsApp.
Lewis also shared photos he had taken at the crime scene that did not show the victims with a WhatsApp group of at least 40 police officers called “A Team”.
They were arrested as part of a criminal investigation by the Watchdog Independent Office of Police Behavior (IOPC).
London Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “PC Jamie Lewis’ actions and former officer Deniz Jaffer were ill. They should have protected a crime scene but instead treated it with contempt and disrespect.
“In doing so, they insulted Nicole and Bibaa, their families, their loved ones and their colleagues.
“There can be no room in the police for anyone who behaves this way.”
The Metropolitan Police must initiate a grossly fraudulent case processing that will see the officers formally dismissed.
A separate investigation concluded that three police officers had a case in charge of fraud as they were either aware of, received or saw the inappropriate photographs and failed to challenge or report them.
“Unfortunately, as today’s events highlight, police officers who fall below the standards of conduct expected of them are not one-time events,” Naseem said.
“A culture where some officers see nothing wrong with sharing deeply offensive messages and where others feel unable or unwilling to challenge this needs to change.”
The pair, attached to the Mets Northeast Command Unit, were both suspended from service following their arrests on June 22 last year.
Jaffer from Hornchurch in east London and Lewis from Colchester in Essex were released on bail ahead of a December sentencing.
Paul Goddard of the CPS said: “These officers were tasked with protecting a tragic crime scene, but instead violated it for their own purposes, disregarding the dignity of the victims or the damage they could do in a murder investigation.
“Their thoughtless and insensitive actions have undoubtedly caused immense additional distress and pain to the heartbroken family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, who were already left behind after the loss of their loved ones. Our thoughts are with them very much in this time.”
Their killer, 19-year-old Danyal Hussein, was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison.
The Old Bailey heard that he had given a handwritten promise to a demonic entity called the King Lucifuge Rofocale to kill six women every six months, which was signed with blood.
Hussain launched a “revenge campaign” against random women in a failed attempt to win the Mega Millions Super Jackpot lottery prize.
The officers’ actions prompted Hussain’s defense attorneys to question whether incriminating DNA evidence from the crime scene could have been contaminated.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC dismissed any suggestion that the bodies were touched or disturbed in any way by officers.
He said the photos were taken some distance away and that any hint that the bodies were touched was “completely baseless”.
Hussain was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 35 years after being found guilty of two counts of murder and possession of a knife.
The killer targeted the sisters after they went to Fryent Country Park to celebrate Mrs. Henry’s birthday with friends, brutally stabbing them to death.
He dragged the bodies away and put them in an embrace to “contaminate” them in death, a judge said.
On the evening of June 6, the sisters’ worried loved ones reported them missing, but officers were not deployed to the park until the next day. The bodies were found by Ms Smallman’s boyfriend Adam Stone.
The IOPC found that the level of service provided by the Met over the weekend when the sisters disappeared was “below the standard it should have been”.