Two MPS officers jailed over ‘shameful’ WhatsApp images
Two former officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) who took and shared photos on WhatsApp of the bodies of two murdered sisters for a “cheap thrill” have each been jailed for two years and nine months.
Police Constables Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis were assigned to guard the scene after Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were found dead in bushes in Fryent Country Park, Wembley, North West London.
Instead, the officers moved from their posts to take photographs of the bodies, which were then shared with colleagues and friends on WhatsApp.
One was a “selfie-style” image which Lewis had superimposed his face on.
The officers’ “shameful” behaviour also included describing the victims as “dead birds” on WhatsApp groups.
Jaffer, 47, of Hornchurch, East London, and Lewis, 33, from Colchester, Essex, pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office.
On Monday, Judge Mark Lucraft QC rejected an appeal for the officers to be spared custody, jailing each of the men for two years and nine months.
The judge condemned their “appalling and inexplicable conduct”.
The men disregarded the victims’ privacy for “a cheap thrill” or “some form of bragging rights” which undermined trust and faith in police, the judge said.
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.
“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”.
The court heard Jaffer and Lewis, neither of whom was wearing forensic protection, were tasked with protecting the scene after arriving at Fryent Park at 3.30am on June 8 last year.
During the night, Jaffer took four pictures of the bodies in situ and Lewis took two, and superimposed his face on a third to create the “selfie-style” picture.
Jaffer sent an inexperienced female colleague photographs of the bodies as they lay intertwined in the bushes, including Lewis’s “selfie”.
He went on to show images to two other officers, including a female probationary officer he was mentoring, who was “shocked” and “disgusted”.
Lewis showed an image from the crime scene to another female officer on his phone but she could not see it clearly, the court heard.
On June 19 last year, the Independent Office for Police Conduct received an anonymous “tip-off” about Lewis, and Jaffer was also arrested three days later.
Asked by his wife why he was being arrested, Jaffer said it was about a photograph he had taken and “nothing done intentionally”.
An examination of the officers’ phones found that images of the bodies had been shared on WhatsApp.
The defendants were members of a group called the “A Team”, comprising 41 MPS officers.
Jaffer was also a member of a WhatsApp group with nine other close friends who had holidayed together.
Lewis posted to the A Team group an article about the discovery of the bodies, saying he and his colleagues were “living the Wembley dream”.
He wrote: “Unfortunately I’m sat next to two dead birds full of stab wounds.”
Jaffer posted on his friends’ group: “I have pictures of the two dead victims. Let me know who doesn’t want to see.”
Jaffer went on to send a photo of the bodies to three friends, including one who sent it on to his partner.
Lewis sent messages about the case to a third WhatsApp group of seven non-police members.
He told them he was involved in a double murder investigation, wrongly saying the victims were aged 20 and 14 and one was pregnant.
Last month a tribunal found the officers had committed gross misconduct.
Lewis was dismissed from the MPS immediately and Jaffer would have been sacked too, had he not already quit the force.
In mitigation, Neil Saunders said Jaffer felt overwhelming remorse for his “shameful” behaviour.
Former trader and father-of-two Jaffer had suffered from depression and anxiety before the offence and was retraining to be an electrician.
Luke Ponte, for Lewis, said that his case was centred on taking two photographs, having only sent the “selfie” picture back to Jaffer.
Lewis, who formerly worked for British Transport Police, had described trying to fit in to a “negative culture” within the police.
In October Danyal Hussein, 19, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 35 years for the murders.
The court heard the officers’ behaviour allowed Hussein to put forward the false defence had incriminating DNA evidence could have been contaminated.
IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “As Jamie Lewis and Deniz Jaffer begin their sentences, my thoughts and sympathies, as always, are with the family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.
“The actions of these men were a gross breach of the standards expected from police officers and undoubtedly compounded the family’s grief.
“We hope the recommendations we made to the MPS last year, now embedded across the north east command structure, are embraced by all officers. A shift in attitudes, culture and behaviour is required to ensure this never happens again.”
MPS Assistant Commissioner 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.”