Two Metropolitan police officers who photographed the bodies of Bibaa Henry (46) and Nicole Smallman (27) and described them as "dead birds" in WhatsApp chats have been fired from the force.
A tribunal yesterday heard how PC Deniz Jaffer (47) and PC Jamie Lewis (33) had been tasked with protecting the crime scene at Fryent Country Park in Wembley, where the sisters' bodies were found last June.
The pair had been celebrating Henry's birthday in the park with friends and stayed on after the rest of the group left. Unbeknownst to the sisters, 19-year-old Danyal Hussein had been watching them, later launching a surprise attack on them with a carving knife. As he dragged their bodies into a nearby bush some of his own blood dripped onto their belongings, ultimately leading to his conviction. Last month, he was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 35 years.
Earlier this month, the two officers admitted to sending "inappropriate" photos of the murdered sisters' bodies, despite Lewis initially denying "with confidence" that he had taken any photos when he was questioned following his arrest [via BBC].
According to a BBC report, the Old Bailey court heard that Jaffer took four images of the siblings and Lewis captured two. One picture had Lewis' face superimposed on to it, and was shared with Jaffer and an unnamed female colleague (also present at the scene). In light of the allegations against him, Jaffer resigned from his position in August of this year, while Lewis remained a serving officer.
A tribunal on Wednesday (24 November) at the Metropolitan Police's Empress Building, heard that the pair's actions amounted to gross misconduct. Speaking at the tribunal, PC Helen Tierney said Jaffer and Lewis had left the cordoned area they were tasked with guarding to take photos of the sisters' bodies.
"Neither of them had authority or a policing purpose to do so," PC Tierney said at the hearing. She also revealed how Lewis sent a WhatsApp message which read: "Unfortunately I'm sat next to two dead birds with stab wounds." Meanwhile, Jaffer sent a separate message saying: "I'm here now I'll try to take pictures of the dead birds."
Neither of the officers attended the hearing, however they sent a joint letter to Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball who was chairing the tribunal. Speaking to the panel, Ball said "no response or explanation" for the officers' actions had been covered in the letter, which she said was "disappointing." She then added that both Jaffer and Lewis had behaved in a "hurtful and dishonest" way.
"Both were aware of the other's actions and sent images to the other and failed to challenge or report such actions," Ball added. "It is obvious to all the behaviour this way discredits the police service and undermines public confidence. Dismissal would be justified and I find the matter as gross misconduct."
She ruled that 33-year-old Lewis should be sacked from the Met, while recommending that 47-year-old Jaffer should be barred from policing ever again. The pair have been warned they both face "lengthy" prison terms when they are sentenced next month.
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