Senior female Met Police officer convicted of possessing child sex abuse video

Supt Robyn Williams was sent video by her sister, who claimed she was trying to alert people to abuse

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 19 November 2019 17:11
Met Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams arrives to enter plea over indecent image charge

A senior Metropolitan Police officer has been convicted of possessing a video showing a child being sexually abused.

Novlett Robyn Williams, 54, was found guilty of possessing an indecent image of a child but cleared of corruption on Tuesday.

The Old Bailey heard that she was among 17 people sent the video by her sister Jennifer Hodge, who had received it from her partner.

Williams is a high-ranking superintendent at Scotland Yard and had been commended for her work in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

She had denied all charges but was convicted by a majority of 10 to one of possessing the video, after a juror was discharged.

The jury cleared her of a charge of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privilege.

Judge Richard Marks QC granted the three defendants bail ahead of a sentencing hearing on 26 November.

“I have not even begun to consider what the appropriate sentence might be," he said.

Williams, of south London, denied seeing the video after it was sent to her via WhatsApp by her sister in February 2018.

But prosecutors said there was no way that Williams could have missed the 54-second clip, where a child’s body could be seen in a tile image.

They cited a response from the officer to her older sister to “please call” as evidence that she wanted to discuss the footage.

Williams was accused of failing to inform police of the illegal video, which showed a young girl performing a sex act on a man, in order to protect her sister.

Giving evidence from the witness box, Williams said she did not read all her messages and would have reported the video if she knew what it was.

“It depends where I am, what else I am doing," she added. “Some things might grab my attention, other things may not.

“There are messages there I just don't respond to, I can't tell you why.”

New recruits to the Metropolitan Police Service are inspected by Superintendent Robyn Williams during their passing out parade at Hendon Training Centre on 13 March 2015 in London ( Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Williams said she was at a gym class on the morning she received the video, with a follow-up message from Hodge pleading for it to be shared.

“Sorry had to send this it’s so sad that this person would put this out please post this and let’s hope he gets life,” Hodge wrote.

The court heard that Williams then attempted to contact her sister and they spoke, but the officer did not report the video.

Police were alerted by a different recipient and began an investigation.

A lawyer representing Williams told the Old Bailey her client did not report the video because she had not played it and did not know what it contained.

“All 16 other people played it because they didn't appreciate what had been sent to them,” said Anesta Weekes QC.

“My client doesn't play it, she doesn't click on it. An expert found she didn't download the video.”

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC previously said that he was not arguing the defendants had a “sexual interest” in the video or had any “sinister purpose” in having or sharing it.

Metropolitan Police Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams, 54, has been found guilty of possessing an indecent photo of a child but cleared of corruption following an Old Bailey trial (Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

“This is instead a case in which we allege that each of them made serious errors of judgment about how to handle this video and, in dealing with it as they did, each of them has committed serious criminal offences,” he added.

Hodge, a 56-year-old social worker, was found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child.

Her 61-year-old boyfriend, bus driver Dido Massivi, 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.

Andrea Brown, representing Hodge, said her client had a “genuinely noble” intention when she circulated the footage to alert people to abuse.

Hodge said she had no idea that distributing the video was illegal, and said she wanted to find out if the content had been “taken down from the platform” and the man reported.

Lefi Tsiattalou, for Massivi, told the court he had also been trying to “raise the alarm” about the video by sending it to Hodge, to pass on to Williams.

She said: “Mr Massivi told police, 'I thought Jennifer was going to report it through her sister' - his actions are of a man that wants to ensure that police are aware of these images.”

Ms Tsiattalou described Massivi as a “simple man” who was not very computer literate.

In an interview with the Sutton Guardian Williams said she had joined the Metropolitan Police in 2008 and had been part of the team that managed the response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

She was appointed as the borough commander for Sutton in September 2017 but was moved from the post and placed on restricted duties after the indecent image investigation was launched.

Additional reporting by PA

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