Hike sentence

An ex-Preston police officer has been sentenced to prison for ‘despicable’ WhatsApp messages shared with Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens

A former Preston police officer has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison after sharing racist, homophobic, misogynistic and ableist messages in a WhatsApp group with Wayne Couzens before murdering Sarah Everard.

Joel Borders has yet to be sent to jail, although a judge granted him bail and co-defendant PC Jonathan Cobban ahead of an appeal. Borders, 46, and Cobban, 35, were members of a chat called “Bottle and Stoppers” on the crypto platform with Couzens, 49.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how they joked about the rape of a colleague, talked about tasering children and people with disabilities and displayed racist views in the group in 2019. The messages were discovered after he then served the officer Met Couzens abducted, raped and strangled to death Ms Everard, a 33-year-old marketing manager, in March last year.

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Cobban was found guilty of three counts of sending grossly offensive messages over a public communications network, while Borders was found guilty of five counts after a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. District Judge Sarah Turnock jailed Cobban and Borders for 12 weeks on Wednesday, saying she couldn’t think of “more grossly offensive posts”, but released the couple ahead of an appeal against their convictions to the High Court.

“They summed up the whole gamut of prejudice, racism, misogyny, ableism and homophobia,” Judge said. “There was no intention on the part of the defendants to cause harm to those affected by these messages or to minor groups in society who are undoubtedly affected by these messages,” she continued. “The people to whom these messages relate will no doubt be deeply distressed to know that the police find it funny to joke about them in such a deeply offensive way.”

The judge said the posts “represent jokes specifically targeted at or about individuals or groups as police officers ‘whom they were sworn to protect’.” Significant harm has undoubtedly been done to public confidence in the police following these offences.”

In the panel discussion, which included seven new Met Police officers including Couzens, Cobban joked about sexual abuse of domestic violence survivors who he said “love it…that’s why they’re the more often repeat victims”. The judge said she couldn’t ‘think of a worse comment for a police officer to say’ and slammed Cobban for calling a self-harm victim he was keeping in hospital a ‘fag’.

In an exchange on April 5, 2019, Borders wrote, “I can’t wait to get on some guns so I can shoot c***s in the face!” Cobban replied, “Me too. I want to taser a cat and a dog to see which reacts better. I think the cat will be more pissed off and the dog will shit. I want to test this theory.

“Same with children. Zap zap small f******. Borders responded by suggesting adding “downys,” a term the prosecution said referred to people with Down syndrome, to the list.

In their conversation, Feltham, in west London, was called “filthy” and Hounslow, also in west London, “Somali crap”. On April 25, 2019, Borders joked about a co-worker, whom he called a “sneaky bitch”, “driving him” and “bringing him” to jail for raping and beating her.

Officers described the posts as “jokes” and dismissed many of the comments as examples of “dark humour”. But the judge dismissed that account, finding that at the very least the extensive police training they each had received meant they would have been aware of the public reaction to their posts. She said Cobban and Borders showed no “genuine remorse” but were “outraged” to end up in court and felt “scapegoated”.

“This humor was hidden and done in a secret way, to exchange pleasantries in a safe space and they felt free to share their views without fear of reprisal,” she said. “It is precisely the secretive nature of these comments that makes prejudice so difficult to combat within the police. It is the contrast between the exemplary conduct of these defendants and the secretive opinions expressed in these messages that concerns me so much.

Nicholas Yeo, defending, said that in addition to losing their jobs, Borders and Cobban would be victims of “cancellation culture” because their names have “become toxic”. “If they had committed a robbery or a GBH, it would be easier for them to find a job than to be linked to the fury of Mr. Couzens,” he said. “They were in no better position than anyone to know what he was going to do.”

PC William Neville, 34, who was also a WhatsApp chat member, was cleared of two counts of sending grossly offensive messages in September, while the police watchdog previously said the six officers who were part of the group with Couzens were accused of raping the police. standards of professional behavior.

Regional Director of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Sal Naseem, said on Wednesday: “Social media cannot be a hiding place for such views and it is important that officers understand that no matter they are expressed in public. platform or as part of a private messaging group.

“Along with the police force themselves, we will continue to ensure that this type of behavior is stamped out and those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”

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