Gross misconduct proven against current and former Met officers who received photo of dead man

A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer and a former officer have today had gross misconduct proven against them linked to a photo of a non-crime sudden death scene and cheating during a driving exam.

PC Bonnie Murphy was dismissed without notice and former PC Jamie Lewis, who was previously sacked and jailed for sharing photos of murder victims Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, would have been dismissed if he was still a serving officer.

A disciplinary hearing, organised by the MPS, was held following an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation which stemmed from our investigation into the taking and sharing of Wembley crime scene photographs of Ms Smallman and Ms Henry.

IOPC investigators found material on Lewis’ phone which showed that in January 2020 he was asked on WhatsApp by PC Murphy to send a photo of a decomposed body at a house in Newham, East London, so she could show a relative. Lewis subsequently shared the photo via WhatsApp. Lewis had been sent the photo by another officer and failed to report or challenge the officer and Murphy for requesting it.

The day after Lewis was arrested over the Wembley incident, PC Murphy told her supervisor that Lewis had also sent her WhatsApp messages asking her if she wanted the answers to the police basic driver written exam.

When she agreed, Lewis sent her previous police driving exam material and the answer sheet to the exam he had taken the previous month. She also used Google during the exam.

At the conclusion of our investigation, we decided both officers had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

After hearing the evidence the disciplinary panel, led by an independent legally qualified chair, ruled they were both in breach of the police professional standards of behaviour relating to honesty and integrity.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said:

“The period after a person’s death is already difficult enough for their loved ones, so to learn that an image has been taken and shared inappropriately by police officers only compounds their grief, undermines their confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service and the profession as a whole.

“We welcome the panel’s decision and hope today’s outcome demonstrates that this behaviour is not treated lightly and can result in serious consequences for the officers involved.

“Though PC Murphy was fairly new to her role, she had undertaken multiple training courses and would have known her request to obtain a death scene photo for personal purposes was in breach of professional standards.

“Lewis failed to challenge PC Murphy’s behavior and was willing to help her cheat in an exam. Both officers also showed a complete lack of respect to this deceased man and his family.

“Lewis has already been jailed for his disgraceful actions by taking and sharing photos of murder victims, and this investigation further illustrates that he was unfit to serve as a police officer.

“Our thoughts remain with the family at this difficult time.”

PC Murphy will now be placed on the College of Policing’s barred list. Former PC Lewis was already placed on the barred list following an accelerated hearing organized by the MPS after he was convicted and jailed in December 2021 for two years and nine months (with half to be served in prison and half on license).

The officer who took the photo of the deceased man had a disciplinary meeting for misconduct in August 2022 and was ordered to take the reflective practice review process to learn and reflect on their actions.

During our investigation, which began in July 2020 and concluded in October 2021, investigators reviewed a download of Lewis’ phone that revealed he had received and sent an image of a deceased male that was taken at the scene and had been involved in the sharing of police driving exams.

Statements were also requested from the other officers who attended the scene of the man’s death and from officers in the police driving school, confirming how the exams were to be administered.

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