Two police constables and one ex-officer charged with sharing “grossly offensive” WhatsApp messages with Sarah Everard murderer Wayne Couzens have been named by prosecutors after their identities were initially kept secret.
Pc Jonathon Cobban, 35, Pc William Neville, 33, and former officer Joel Borders, 45, are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 16, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
Last week, when the charges were first announced, the CPS said it could not release their names due to “operational reasons”, but on Monday their identities were published, as is standard in criminal cases.
Rosemary Ainslie, head of the CPS Special Crime Division, said: “Following a referral of evidence by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the CPS authorised charges against two serving Metropolitan Police officers and one former officer.
“Pc Jonathon Cobban, 35, Pc William Neville, 33, and former officer Joel Borders, 45, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 16 for their first hearing.
“Each of the three defendants has been charged with sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network. The alleged offences took place on a WhatsApp group chat.
“The function of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges to a court to consider.
“Criminal proceedings are active and nothing should be published that could jeopardise the defendants’ right to a fair trial.”
Cobban and Borders are each charged with five counts of sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network, while Neville faces two counts of the same offence.
According to watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct, the alleged offences occurred between April and August 2019.
Serving Metropolitan Police officer Couzens raped and murdered Ms Everard in March last year and received a whole life jail term in September.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid said: “I am deeply concerned to hear two serving officers and a former officer have been charged with these offences.
“I understand that the public will be very concerned too.
“Criminal proceedings must now take their course.”