Two Metropolitan Police officers who took sickening pictures of the bodies of two murdered sisters and shared them on WhatsApp are facing jail.
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.
Four images of the two women’s dead bodies were taken by Jaffer and a further two pictures were shot by Lewis, as the tragic women lay dead in the undergrowth.
The pictures were then shared on WhatsApp with Lewis’ face superimposed on to one of the images, while the officer also used “degrading and sexist” language to describe the two women.
Jaffer and Lewis were charged after an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), and pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning to committing misconduct in a public office.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Recorder of London, told both officers to expect jail terms “of some length” when they return to the Old Bailey for sentencing in December.
“The two of you were assigned the task of guarding that scene overnight”, said the judge, saying a “vital” role of the officers were to remain at their posts.
“You took photos of the bodies, you superimposed the face of another and sent the images to others. These matters are extremely serious. You should be under no illusion when you return for sentencing.
“It is extremely likely you will receive custodial sentences and custodial sentences of some length.”
Ms Henry, 46, and Ms Smallman, 27, were murdered by 18-year-old Danyal Hussein, who believed he was fulfilling a Satanic pact by “sacrificing” women in exchange for a lottery win.
The killer – jailed for life with a minimum of 35 years last week – 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.
Hussein’s trial heard how images of the murdered women had been taken and shared by the officers.
Both officers admitted they had shared information with members of the public that they had been assigned to the crime scene, when the murders of the two sisters made national news.
“PC Jamie Lewis and PC Deniz Jaffer’s senseless conduct fell way below that to be expected from police officers,” said Paul Goddard, from the CPS.
“These officers were tasked with protecting a tragic crime scene, but instead they violated it for their own purposes, with no regard to the dignity of the victims, or the harm they might do to a murder investigation.
“Their thoughtless and insensitive actions have no doubt caused immeasurable further distress and pain to the heartbroken family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry who were already left reeling from the loss of their loved ones. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”
The CPS said PC Lewis superimposed his own face on to one of the images of the bodies, sending the picture on to Jaffer who then forwarded it unsolicited to a female officer on duty with them.
Jaffer showed one image to a male officer as they left the park, and Lewis posted pictures of the crime scene – not featuring the bodies – to a WhatsApp group of more than 40 fellow police officers called the ‘A Team’.
At Hussein’s trial, prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC had to reject the suggestion that the bodies had been interfered with or touched, and argue that DNA samples identifying the killer could be trusted.
“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.”
Members of the family of Ms Smallman and Ms Henry, including mother Mina Smallman, were in court to hear for the pleas.
The Venerable Ms Smallman had previously called the officers “Despicable 1 and Despicable 2″, adding: “Our family’s grief was further compounded by the cordon officers who will now be known as Despicable 1 and 2 – any inner strength I had reserved had been torn away.”
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.
They have been freed on bail until sentencing on a date to be set in December.
Reacting to the guilty pleas, IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said Jaffer and Lewis’ “sickening” actions have “further undermined public confidence and damaged trust in the Metropolitan Police Service at a time when policing standards have never been under such close scrutiny.”
“Sadly, as today’s events highlight, police officers falling below the standards of behaviour expected of them are not one-off events”, he said.
“A culture where some officers do not see anything wrong with sharing deeply offensive messages, and where others feel unable or unwilling to challenge this, has to change. And it has to change now.”
Calling for “long-lasting changes in attitudes, culture and behaviour”, Mr Naseem revealed that three officers who received pictures of the crime scene and did not report the incident are now facing misconduct proceedings.
Stemming from the probe, other Met officers are accused of cheating on a driving exam by sharing answers in advance, allegedly taking and sharing a picture of a sudden death scene, and a PC is accused of gross misconduct over alleged discriminatory language in a WhatsApp group.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said in a statement: “Our thoughts today are with the family and friends of Bibaa and Nicole. I deeply regret that at a time when they were grieving the loss of their loved ones who were taken in such awful circumstances, they faced additional distress caused by the actions of two police officers.
“What former PC Jaffer and PC Lewis chose to do that day was utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive. I know that is the view of colleagues across the Met who utterly condemn this behaviour.
“They have pleaded guilty today to a serious criminal offence and sentencing will follow in due course. I apologised to Bibaa and Nicole’s family in June last year and, on behalf of the Met, I apologise again today.”