UK

Wayne Couzens’ Met Police colleagues found guilty over ‘grossly offensive’ WhatsApp messages

Two Metropolitan Police officers have been convicted over racist, misogynist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic and ableist messages shared in a WhatsApp group containing Wayne Couzens.

PC Jonathon Cobban, 35, and former officer Joel Borders, 45, had denied charges of sending grossly offensive messages.

A court heard heard that chats, from 2019, included posts discussing rape, domestic abuse and violence against women.

Cobban was found guilty of three counts of sending grossly offensive messages and acquitted of two, while Borders was convicted on all five charges he faced. They will be sentenced on 2 November.

Their co-defendant, PC William Neville, 34, was acquitted of two counts of the same charge.

Their defence lawyers had attempted to have the case dismissed in July, arguing that the messages did not meet the legal definition of “grossly offensive”, because they were sent in a private chat group where “no one was offended and they were not targeted at anyone”.

District Judge Sarah Turnock refused the application, saying the messages were capable of being grossly offensive within the meaning of the Communications Act 2003”.

Giving her verdicts at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, she called their messages “sickening” and “disgusting”.

Rosemary Ainslie, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said it would prosecute similar offences against police officers “robustly” when in the public interest.

“It is incomprehensible that serving police officers could think it was right to share these kinds of grossly offensive messages with others,” she added.

“They were not just shocking or disturbing banter, but they amounted to criminal offences.”

During the men’s trial in July, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told the messages were discovered in a WhatsApp group called “Bottle and Stoppers/Atkin’s Puppets” after Couzens was arrested for kidnapping, raping and murdering Sarah Everard in March 2021.

Prosecutor Edward Brown QC said the chat contained “a close-knit group of” seven police officers who had transferred from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary to the Metropolitan Police in February 2019, five months after Couzens.

“There is no evidence that any of the defendants, or the other members of the group, ‘called out’ or challenged any of their co-defendants on receipt of what are said by the prosecution to be the offensive messages,” he added.

“Each defendant actively participated and chose to remain in the group.”

Defence barrister Nicholas Yeo argued that the messages did not meet the legal definition of “grossly offensive”, because they were sent in a private chat group where “no one was offended and they were not targeted at anyone”.

While giving evidence in their defence, the men argued that the messages had been “banter”, jokes or misinterpreted by the prosecution.

In one exchange, Borders wrote of a female police officer: “She will use me as an example. Lead me on then get me locked up when I rape and beat her! Sneaky b****.”

Other posts saw chat participants joking about police performing sex acts on domestic violence victims, with Cobban writing: “That’s alright, DV victims love it… that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not.”

Xural.com

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