Two British police officers have admitted to taking photographs of the bodies of two murdered sisters and sharing the images online.
Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis, members of London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) service, pleaded guilty on Tuesday at the capital’s Old Bailey court to capturing and distributing images of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman after they were killed in a park last year.
Henry, 46, and Smallman, 27, were found dead on June 7, 2020, in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, northwest London, where they had been celebrating Henry’s birthday.
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Danyal Hussein, 19, was last week sentenced to life in prison for their murders after telling the Old Bailey he had made a pact with “a demon” to kill women.
Officers Jaffer and Lewis were tasked with protecting the scene following the incident, but on June 8 left their posts and approached the sisters’ bodies before taking “inappropriate” and “unauthorised” photographs that were later shared on WhatsApp, the court was told.
Jaffer, 47, took four pictures of the victims and Lewis, 33, took two, the court heard.
Prosecutors said Lewis edited one picture by superimposing his face onto the photograph with the victims in the background.
He then sent that image to Jaffer, who forwarded it on, unsolicited, to a female officer also present at the scene, the court was told.
Jaffer and Lewis admitted misconduct in a public office.
Judge Mark Lucraft granted the defendants conditional bail and adjourned sentencing until December.
“These matters are extremely serious and you should be under no illusions when you return for sentence it is extremely likely you will receive custodial sentences, custodial sentences of some length for your conduct,” he warned them.
Met chief under pressure
Tuesday’s developments mark the latest controversy to hit the Met in recent months and will likely increase public pressure on its commissioner, Cressida Dick, to resign. Wayne Couzens, another serving officer with the Metropolitan Police, was recently jailed for life for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard earlier this year.
Mina Smallman, the victims’ mother, criticised the police’s initial response when her daughters were reported missing, accusing the service of racial bias.
She said they showed little urgency in the case at the time, prompting the family to launch their own search.
Nicole Smallman’s boyfriend found the sisters’ bodies 36 hours after they were killed.
Last week, Dick apologised for the Met’s response when the sisters were reported missing.
“While we know that very sadly Nicole and Bibaa had been murdered in the early hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, before they were reported missing, if we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain,” she said in a statement.
On Tuesday, in her latest statement on the case, Dick said she “deeply regretted” the actions of Jaffer and Lewis, denouncing their actions as “utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive”.
Jaffer and Lewis were suspended from duty following their arrests on June 22 last year.