Met Police officers who shared photos of murdered sisters on WhatsApp jailed

Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis jailed for two years and nine months each for ‘appalling and inexplicable’ actions

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 06 December 2021 21:01 GMT
Two police officers admit sharing photos of murdered sisters

Two police officers who took photos of two murdered sisters after being assigned to guard the scene where they were brutally attacked have been jailed.

Former Metropolitan Police constables Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 33, committed what the victims’ parents called a “sacrilegious act”.

They had been stationed on the cordon where sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, were found stabbed to death in bushes at Fryent Country Park in Wembley.

The constables took photographs after entering the crime scene without authorisation in the early hours of 7 June 2020, the Old Bailey heard.

Photos of the victims’ bodies were then shown to other police officers in person, and shared on WhatsApp with colleagues and friends.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Recorder of London, told Jaffer and Lewis they risked the integrity of the crime scene and “wholly disregarded” the victims’ privacy.

He said they took and shared the photographs “for what could only have been some sort of cheap thrill, kudos, a kick or bragging rights”, and had undermined trust in policing.

“The public expects, and rightly so, the highest of standards from police officers,” Judge Lucraft said. “I am sure there will be many thousands of officers in police forces in this country and abroad utterly horrified by your actions. It is appalling and inexplicable conduct.”

Jaffer, of Hornchurch, east London, and Lewis, from Colchester, Essex, were each jailed for two years and nine months.

Both men pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office at the Old Bailey last month, and have since been formally dismissed from the Metropolitan Police. They have also been barred from serving as police officers again in the future.

Defence barristers said they felt genuine remorse and argued for their prison sentences to be suspended, but Judge Lucraft said immediate imprisonment was the “only appropriate sentence”.

He said that in addition to the photos, the men had made “distasteful” comments about the victims on WhatsApp, and enabled murderer Danyal Hussain to falsely claim that they may have contaminated evidence at the crime scene.

Speaking outside the court, the victims’ mother, Mina Smallman, said: “It is not a day for celebration ... we’ve been to hell and back again.”

She said there was “more work to be done” to change police culture around WhatsApp and misogyny, which is under examination following the murder of Sarah Everard.

The court heard that Jaffer and Lewis arrived at the cordon around where the bodies of Ms Henry and Ms Smallman had been found at around 3.30am and were made aware of the “general location of the bodies” but not shown them.

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

A more junior officer witnessed the defendants abandoning their posts to speak to each other, and discussing the fact that the victims had not been covered.

Analysis of their mobile phones later showed that Jaffer took four photographs of the two murder victims.

He claimed he had taken them to protect against claims that he had interfered with the scene, and because he was concerned about wild animals.

The court heard that Jaffer said he had sent the photos onwards to “show the danger around”.

Lewis took two photos of the general scene and superimposed his face on one of Jaffer’s pictures to create a “selfie-style” image with the bodies, which he sent back to his colleague.

Jaffer sent his photographs to a female officer, who was also guarding the scene, on WhatsApp, and then showed other colleagues the images in person during a refreshment break.

He later showed them to a “shocked and disgusted” female officer, who he was mentoring, at Forest Gate police station.

Jaffer and Lewis were members of a WhatsApp group called “A Team” that included 41 Metropolitan Police officers.

Shortly after arriving at the murder scene, Lewis shared a news article about the discovery of the bodies in the group and wrote that he and his colleagues were “living the Wembley dream”.

He shared photos of the general scene in the group and wrote: “Unfortunately I'm sat next to two dead birds full of stab wounds.”

Jaffer was also in another WhatsApp group of friends from outside of policing, where he wrote: “I have pictures of the two dead victims. Let me know who doesn't want to see.“

He also sent a photo of the bodies to a former colleague with the message: “This is what I have to deal with.”

Mother of sisters murdered in Wembley vows to 'not let killer out'

Two more members of the public received pictures from him, with one sending it on to his partner, the court heard.

On 19 June last year, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog received an anonymous ”tip-off“ about Lewis and the investigation led to Jaffer’s arrest and the seizure of his phone.

A separate investigation concluded that three constables had a case to answer for misconduct as they were either aware of, received or viewed the inappropriate photographs and failed to challenge or report them.

Last month, a tribunal found the officers had committed gross misconduct. Lewis was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police immediately and Jaffer would have been sacked but had already resigned.

The Met said it had implemented IOPC recommendations and “reminded all officers of the standards they are expected to uphold”.

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.

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

The court heard that Jaffer had joined the Metropolitan Police in March 2018, after working as a City trader for 20 years, and is married with two teenage daughters.

Lewis joined the force in September 2019, after transferring from British Transport Police, where he had served since July 2018. He is divorced with two young children.

Lewis told the court he was traumatised by dealing with the aftermath of people being hit by trains, and felt that he had been trying to fit in with a “negative culture in policing”.

Hussain was handed a life sentence last month for targeting the sisters after they went to the park to celebrate Ms Henry’s birthday with friends.

The Old Bailey heard he had made a handwritten pledge to a demonic entity called “King Lucifuge Rofocale” to kill six women every six months, which was signed in blood.

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