Met Police sack Supt Robyn Williams after decorated female officer convicted over child abuse video

Williams denied seeing footage that was sent by her sister to 'raise awareness'

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 14 March 2020 12:37
Novlett Robyn Williams has been found guilty of possessing an indecent photo of a child but cleared of corruption
Novlett Robyn Williams has been found guilty of possessing an indecent photo of a child but cleared of corruption

A decorated police officer has been sacked by the Metropolitan Police after being convicted of possessing a child sex abuse video.

Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams denied seeing the footage after it was sent over WhatsApp by her sister, who claimed to be raising awareness.

But the 54-year-old was convicted of possessing the footage at trial and sentenced to carry out 200 hours of community service in November.

On Friday, she was dismissed from the Met without notice following a disciplinary hearing that found Williams’ conviction amounted to gross misconduct.

Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball said: “Being convicted of possession of an indecent image of a child and being sentenced for this is likely to discredit the police service and seriously undermine public confidence in it.

“Any criminal conviction is serious and likely to have an adverse impact on public confidence in policing.”

Williams continues to deny any wrongdoing and is appealing against her conviction and sentence. She is now considering whether to appeal the decision to dismiss her.

The disgraced officer is “disappointed and devastated” by the decision, according to the Police Superintendents Association, which supported her through the trial and the disciplinary process.

Victor Marshall OBE, its professional standards coordinator, said: “The hearing heard overwhelming and unprecedented support for Supt Williams from communities and people, both inside and outside policing about her dedication to public service in the 36 years she has served.

“We will continue to do so throughout the legal appeal being made against her conviction and sentence, and consideration of appeal against this decision.”

A judge described the case as “completely tragic” following a distinguished career where the Williams had taken on leading roles in the Met and been decorated by the Queen.

The officer, who uses her middle name Robyn at work, described herself as “wedded to” her job and had won praise for her work with Grenfell victims.

Williams joined the Met in 2008 and had been part of the team that managed the response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

She earnt a Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service in 2003 and a Royal Warrant the year before.

Williams inspects new recruits during their passing out parade in 2015

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.

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

The court was told none of the defendants had a sexual interest in the footage, which showed a young girl performing a sex act on a man.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said he was not accusing the defendants of having any “sinister purpose” in having or sharing the video.

“Each of them made serious errors of judgement about how to handle this video and, in dealing with it as they did, each of them has committed serious criminal offences,” he added.

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

But prosecutors said there was no way she could have missed the 54-second clip, where a child’s body could be seen in a tile image, and had discussed it with her sister.

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.

Williams’ sister Jennifer Hodge and her partner, Dido Massivi, were also sentenced

The court heard 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.

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.

There was no suggestion she had played the video, but the judge said her claim that she did not discuss it with her sister until she was arrested was “fanciful”.

Williams was cleared of the improper exercise of police powers by failing to report the video, but convicted by majority of possession.

No further action was taken against the other 16 people who received the footage, and police said they had either deleted or reported it.

Hodge, a 56-year-old social worker, was given 100 hours of community service for distributing an indecent image of a child.

Massivi, 61, was handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence and 200 hours unpaid work for distributing the video, and possessing an extreme pornographic image.

All three were placed on the sex offenders’ register – Hodge and Williams for five years, and Massivi for 10.

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