Mina Smallman, mother of the recently murdered sisters Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, was shocked to find out that two British police officers had illegally shared crime scene photos of her daughters on social media.
The two police officers plead guilty in a London court on Tuesday, where they are expected to receive a lengthy sentence for their inappropriate and insensitive actions.
The Metropolitan police force offered a public apology, saying that the department was sorry “for the way we responded when the sisters were reported missing.”
Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman’s mother, Mina Smallman, told Channel 4 News that, “The time for apologies has long gone.”
Reported missing by family and friends last year, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were later found at Fryent Country Park in Wembley Park, London. After police failed to respond to the missing persons reports, relatives set out on their own, locating the murdered sisters in some bushes in the park.
Mina Smallman, a retired Anglican priest, alleged racial bias, claiming that police must have seen that Bibaa Henry was a Black woman who lived in public housing, and choose to ignore the missing persons search.
The two sisters were celebrating Bibaa Henry’s birthday at a picnic when they were suddenly and brutally stabbed by 19-year-old Danyal Hussein. Last week, he was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison for the murders.
After the crime, investigators found that Hussein had written in his apartment of a believed “blood pact” he made with a demon to sacrifice six women over the course of six months in order to win the lottery.
Metropolitan police officers Deniz Jaffer, 47, and Jamie Lewis, 33, were the two officers who later shared images of their murder on WhatsApp, where there were tasked with protecting the crime scene.
Sharing photos of their dead bodies with members of the public, the two officers allegedly used the words “degrading and sexist” in the WhatsApp group. Officer Lewis took four photos, editing them so that hisb face appeared superimposed with the sisters in the background, and then sent them to Officer Jaffer. Jaffer then forwarded the photos to another unnamed female officer at the scene.
At court on Tuesday, the two officers plead guilty to “extremely serious” misconduct. Judge Mark Lucraft told them that they “should be under no illusions when you return for sentence it is extremely likely you will receive custodial sentences of some length for your conduct.”
In a statement from the Metropolitan Police Department, Commissioner Cressida Dick condemned their behavior and said that, “What former PC Jaffer and PC Lewis chose to do that day was utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive.”
“I deeply regret that at a time when they were grieving the loss of their loved ones who were taken in such awful circumstances, they faced additional distress caused by the actions of two police officers,” the Commissioner said. “Our thoughts today are with the family and friends of Bibaa and Nicole.”
The two officers not only violated their posts, but risked contaminating the crime scene, the investigation revealed. The photos shared allegedly went out to a group of over 46 people and colleagues.
“You know, you go to London to start to prepare the funeral of your dead children and then you’re forced to have a meeting with the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct),” Mina Smallman told reporters on Tuesday at the courthouse.
The Commander told her “that police officers that should have been protecting the area had actually taken selfies and sent them out to a dentist and a doctor and a WhatsApp group,” she revealed, adding that she was “horrified and almost in tears.”
“There’s details of this whole incident that we cannot share with you,” she said, “but they will come out in time.”