Dismissed officer's child abuse video conviction appeal refused
A highly-decorated police officer’s appeal against her conviction for having a child abuse video on her phone has been refused by the Court of Appeal.
Novlett Robyn Williams, 56, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for possession of an indecent image in November 2019.
Her trial at the Old Bailey heard that Williams received the video via WhatsApp from her older sister Jennifer Hodge, 57, who had originally been sent the clip by her long-term boyfriend, 63-year-old Dido Massivi.
Williams – who has since been sacked without notice by the Metropolitan Police Service for “gross misconduct” – appealed against both her conviction and her sentence at a hearing on Thursday (February 18).
She attended the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday morning for her appeal, as did Hodge and Massivi who also challenging their convictions.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mrs Justice Ellenbogen, refused all of the appeals.
The judge said: “The applications made on behalf of all three appellants in this case are refused for reasons which will be handed down later.”
Williams’ barrister Anesta Weekes QC earlier told the court there was “not even a suggestion” that her client had watched the 54-second video and that she was “the only one” of the recipients who had not watched it.
She said the case against Williams at trial was that “there was a clear image and you were looking at a thumbnail for some 12 seconds, so you must have seen that indecent image”.
Ms Weekes told the court that expert evidence suggested that “the image had been sufficiently downloaded and the experts said ‘it is our view that the image would have been clear’”.
But Ms Weekes said that the experts were not able to properly examine Williams’ phone, adding: “There is an element of unfairness here if you do not even have the very phone and you cannot demonstrate on the phone … how clear it (the thumbnail) would be.”
Richard Wright QC, for the Crown, said: “The experts were plainly not giving evidence about what Ms Williams did see.
“They were giving evidence about what was present on her phone to be seen and that was the central issue in the case and one which required expert evidence to reconstruct the thumbnail, its clarity, its size and how it would have appeared in the absence of the original thumbnail.”
At the trial, the Old Bailey heard that Williams had an exemplary disciplinary record and was highly regarded for her work both in the aftermath of Grenfell and at successive Notting Hill Carnivals.
She was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 2003.
Williams faced a second charge, of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privilege by failing to notify officers about the video, but was found not guilty of this charge.
Hodge, of Brent in northwest London, was found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child, actions she told the court were intended to find the abuser responsible and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Massivi, also of Brent, was convicted of two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying a person having sex with a horse.
He was handed an 18-month sentence for each offence to run concurrently and suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.