Police to be charged over murder

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Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Three police constables and a police community support officer will be charged over the treatment of a disabled man murdered by a vigilante who said he was a paedophile.

Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, was beaten to death and his body set on fire by neighbour Lee James in Bristol on July 14 2013 after his neighbours wrongly believed the claims.

James, of Capgrave Crescent, Brislington, was later jailed for life for murder, while Stephen Norley, who lived next door, was jailed for four years for assisting an offender.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission submitted a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service in October 2014 into how officers responded to events and contact from Mr Ebrahimi.

Today, the Crown Prosecution Service announced three police constables and a police community support officer will be charged with misconduct in a public office.

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said: “Pcs Kevin Duffy, Helen Harris and Leanne Winter, all of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, are to be charged with misconduct in public office for allegedly failing to respond to allegations and calls for help from Mr Ebrahimi.

“PCSO Andrew Passmore is to be charged with misconduct in public office for allegedly giving false information to the 999 operator that he was outside Mr Ebrahimi’s home at an important time. He will also be charged with perverting the course of justice for allegedly giving different accounts to the police murder investigation and the IPCC investigation.

“As part of our review of this case we have also decided that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges of misconduct in public office against two other members of Avon and Somerset Constabulary staff – a police emergency call taker and an emergency call supervisor.

“The decision to prosecute was reached after careful consideration of the evidence and was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is sufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

“All four individuals will appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing on 14 January 2015.

“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the aforementioned individuals have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

A post-mortem examination found Mr Ebrahimi, an Iranian national, suffered “multiple heavy blows to the face and head” and died before he was set alight.

James and Norley were jailed at Bristol Crown Court in November last year after entering guilty pleas to murder and assisting an offender respectively.

The court heard Mr Ebrahimi was murdered three days after he had been arrested by police, following complaints that he had been taking pictures of children outside his home.

During the fatal attack, father-of-four James, who believed his victim had been filming his children, repeatedly stamped on Mr Ebrahimi’s head, telling him “have some of that”.

Father-of-two Norley, who worked for a fruit and vegetable wholesaler, helped James drag Mr Ebrahimi’s body from the scene of the attack and obtained white spirit to burn it.

Speaking after the case, Mr Ebrahimi’s sister Manizhah Moores said her brother suffered racial abuse while living in Bristol.

“We hope that nobody else ever has to witness an innocent disabled man being abused, taunted and tortured in the way that Bijan suffered,” Mrs Moores said.

The charges are:

:: Kevin Duffy between July 10 and 15 2013 at Bristol, while acting as a public officer, namely a police constable, wilfully misconducted himself in relation to his dealings with Bijan Ebrahimi, contrary to common law;

:: Helen Harris between July 10 and 15 2013 at Bristol, while acting as a public officer, namely a police constable, wilfully misconducted herself in relation to her dealings with Bijan Ebrahimi, contrary to common law;

:: Leanne Winter between July 10 and 15 2013 at Bristol, while acting as a public officer, namely a police constable, wilfully misconducted herself in relation to her dealings with Bijan Ebrahimi, contrary to common law;

:: Andrew Passmore between July 11 and 15 2013 at Bristol, while acting as a public officer, namely a police community support officer, wilfully misconducted himself in relation to his dealings with Bijan Ebrahimi, contrary to common law;

:: Andrew Passmore between July 11 and November 12 2013 at Bristol, with intent to pervert the course of justice, did a series of acts which had a tendency to pervert the course of justice in that he lied about an area being quiet and repeated that lie in two witness statements, contrary to common law.

Acting Chief Constable John Long, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “Now the CPS have confirmed their intention to charge three police officers and one police community support officer in connection with the events leading up to the death of Bijan Ebrahimi, we must let the courts process run its course.

“We are consulting with the CPS and IPCC about the timing of internal misconduct processes and we will hold these as soon as we are able.

“A great deal of work is under way to address the lessons to be learnt, and I want to reassure the communities of Avon and Somerset that we will continue to listen, learn and improve our service to protect them and keep them safe.”

Published: Friday 5th December 2014 by The News Editor

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