Acting Chief Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams (pictured above) denies possessing an indecent image of a child in February 2018
A senior officer in the Met Police who helped Grenfell victims failed to report her sister for sharing a child abuse video on WhatsApp, a court heard.
Acting Chief Superintendent Novlett Robyn Williams is said to have made a ‘serious error of judgment’ after she was sent a ‘disgusting and disturbing’ clip of a child around the age of five, being forced to engage in a sex act with a man.
Williams, from south London, was one of 17 people to be sent the video – which lasted less than a minute – by her sister Jennifer Hodge, who had received it from her partner Dido Massivi last year.
The 54-year-old chose not to inform police through fear it would implicate her sister and her partner, jurors at the Old Bailey were told.
Police had already been alerted to the video by another recipient, rather than Williams, who as a senior police officer had an obligation to report it herself, the court was told.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told jurors: ‘Miss Williams did not report the video. Therefore we say not only did she commit the criminal offence of possessing it, but she also failed to exercise her powers as a police officer to act upon it.
‘Here, in simple terms, we say that the defendant Williams failed to act because she knew that to do so would place her sister and her sister’s partner at risk of arrest and a criminal offence.’
It was not suggested that Williams, Hodge or Massivi had any sexual interest in the video or had any ‘sinister purpose’ in having or sharing it.
Mr Wright added: ‘This is instead a case in which we allege that each of them made serious errors of judgment about how to handle this video and, in dealing with it as they did, each of them has committed serious criminal offences.’
He continued that the case was ‘sad’, but highlighted that the defendants are ‘not bad people’.
Jennifer Hodge (left) denies distributing an indecent image of a child and Did Massivi (right) denies two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child
But he said: ‘Regrettably, however, that have all made very bad judgments, and in doing so we say that they have broken the law.’
When her sister and brother-in-law were arrested by officers, Supt Williams telephoned senior colleagues within the force, jurors heard.
Hodge was held in custody and was anxious to ring her sister and did so.
Mr Wright said: ‘Williams must have known that it was only a matter of time before officers dealing with Massivi and her sister made the connection to herself.
‘Indeed, it would only be a matter of time until the examination of Hodge’s phone revealed that the message had been sent to Williams on 3 February.
Richard Wright QC (court sketch above) said Williams’ sister had created an ‘impossible situation’ by sending her the video
‘To that end, Williams made a number of calls to a fellow senior officer Chief Supt Simon Ovens, who had a role with the Superintendents’ Association.
‘We invite you to conclude that on any view she was seeking advice.’
Police rapidly made the connection between Hodge and Williams, because they told officers Hodge had tried to report it by giving it to her sister.
‘The officer dealing with the case tracked down Williams using the police systems and made a telephone call to her on morning of 5 February.
‘In the call between DC Karen Beck and Williams the defendant confirmed that she was a serving officer and told DC Beck that she had received something from her sister but did not know what.
Jurors at the Old Bailey (pictured above) were told to not allow themselves to be ‘swayed by emotion or your own revulsion’
‘We suggest that this telephone call was the beginning of a very sad chain of events in which Supt Williams committed herself to lie.
‘Rather than face the fact that she had made an error of judgement that weekend when confronted with the impossible situation, perhaps that her sister had created by sending her the video.
‘Rather than accept that she had received the video and had agonised over what to do with it knowing that to report it would be to see her sister inevitably arrested, she made the calamitous decision to do nothing and hope for the best.
‘Instead she committed herself to the lie that we say remains at the heart of her case; she told DC Beck that she had never seen the image and did not know that her sister had sent her an indecent image of a child.’
The sister met each other in a central London gym on 4 February and spent eight hours together, jurors heard.
Mr Wright added: ‘They spent in the region of eight hours together on this Sunday. This image must have a burning issue for Hodge on any view and it is again we say inconceivable that the two would not have discussed it when they met.
‘Surely, that was the purpose, or one of them, behind them meeting as they did that day.
‘If she had seen the image, and we say you can be sure she did-then the only explanation for not taking action was that she knew that her sister and her sister’s partner were at risk of arrest and prosecution.
‘This was the corrupt failure to exercise the powers and duties of a constable and it was a criminal failure.’
Williams denies possessing an indecent image of a child in February 2018 and corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privilege.
Social worker Hodge, 56, from north-west London, denies distributing an indecent image of a child.
Bus driver Massivi, 61, also of north-west London, denies two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image portraying a person having sex with a horse.
The judge, Richard Marks QC, warned the seven women and five men on the jury that the case involved ‘pretty unpleasant’ images, but told them to ‘put emotion to one side’.
He said: ‘It is very important that you don’t allow yourself to be swayed by emotion or your own revulsion.’
The trial is listed to last for up to three weeks.