Met officer accused of joking about rape in WhatsApp says he was ‘exemplary’ on the job

·4-min read
Former Metropolitan Police constable Joel Borders told Westminster Magistrates’ Court he was an ‘exemplary’ officer (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
Former Metropolitan Police constable Joel Borders told Westminster Magistrates’ Court he was an ‘exemplary’ officer (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

A former Metropolitan Police officer accused of joking about raping a colleague in a group WhatsApp with Sarah Everard’s killer has described himself as “exemplary” on the job.

Joel Borders, 45, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court “my image was perfect and I behaved perfectly”, and accused prosecutors of “trying to criminalise innocent police officers” over “jokes” they had made in a private group.

Borders has denied charges relating to improper use of a public electronic communications network between April 5 and August 9 2019, as have co-accused serving Met constables Jonathon Cobban, 35, and William Neville, 34.

Their WhatsApp chat, called “Bottle and Stoppers” comprised seven officers who had transferred from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) to the Met.

It is known that messages from the chat were found on Wayne Couzens’ phone during investigations into the murder of Ms Everard last year, though the court has not made direct reference to this due to other ongoing hearings.

Borders had worked for the CNC from March 30 2014, and transferred to the Met on February 11 2019.

He left the force on December 9 2020 for unrelated reasons and before he was told about Couzens or that he was being investigated for misconduct in August 2021.

In messages previously read to the court, Borders, from Preston, Lancashire, said: “I can’t wait to get on the guns so I can shoot some c*** in the face”, and suggested tasering people with Down’s Syndrome.

Speaking about a female colleague, he also said she would “lead me on then get me locked up when I rape and beat her! Sneaky bitch”.

During cross-examination by his lawyer Nicholas Yeo on Friday, Borders told the court that he was “well thought-of on the job”, and his “joke” messages had been “blown out of proportion”.

“I was an exemplary officer,” he said. “I always turned up to work early, I always dressed smart, made sure my boots were clean.

“My image was perfect and I behaved perfectly with people. I know that’s me saying this, but I was well thought-of on the job.”

Borders admitted that he was “naive” when he first joined the Met in February 2019, but handling “delicate matters” changed his sense of humour.

He said his jokes were not intended to offend the people who they were about, and gave the example of a joke he made about his mother, who has dementia, after she suffered a fall and broke her hip a few months ago.

He said that he made his “exhausted” 75-year-old father laugh by telling him not to visit her in hospital if he were too tired because “she won’t remember”.

“You might say that’s offensive to people with dementia, but it made my dad laugh, and all of a sudden his mood changed – his whole attitude changed,” he said.

During a later, heated exchange with prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward, Borders said: “You are trying to criminalise innocent police officers.”

Serving Metropolitan police officer Jonathon Cobban (PA)
Serving Metropolitan police officer Jonathon Cobban (PA)

Indicating his former colleagues in the dock, he said: “Those officers in there are probably going to lose their jobs, just because you take exception to certain jokes.”

Cobban, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, bowed his head and fixed his gaze at the ground as these comments were made, before taking to the witness box himself.

In messages previously heard by the court, Cobban described a hospital patient he was dealing with as an “attention seeking, self-harming fag”, and Hounslow, a diverse area of London, as a “Somali shithole”.

Following this second comment, he added: “There goes pussy patrol… more like FGM (female genital mutilation) patrol.”

Speaking on Friday, Cobban said the “pussy patrol” joke took inspiration from Channel 4 comedy The Inbetweeners, and his FGM comment was not related to the ethnic diversity of the area.

Cobban said that like many emergency services workers, he had “developed a dark sense of humour”.

Responding to jokes about police performing sex acts on domestic violence victims, Cobban also wrote in the group chat: “That’s alright, DV victims love it… that’s why they are repeat victims more often than not.”

The Pc described this comment as “quite obviously sarcastic” and a way of “venting frustrations after attending domestic abuse calls where callers would not co-operate with police once they arrived”.

The officer said that in these cases, “more often than not the allegations are false”.

Serving Metropolitan Police Pc William Neville (PA)
Serving Metropolitan Police Pc William Neville (PA)

Cobban said: “Since then, I have been to many domestics and some of them are heart-breaking. I would not find that joke funny now.”

When asked by Mr Yeo whether he thought the messages would be read by people outside the group chat, he said: “Not for one second.

“As far as I was concerned these messages were on a private, encoded WhatsApp group and they would never be read by anyone outside the group.”

Neville, of Weybridge, Surrey, watched from the dock, and is due to give evidence later on Friday.

On Thursday, Neville was accused of “acting out a rape fantasy” by prosecutor Edward Brown QC after he described the time he “pinned a 15-year-old girl going mental on the floor” as deploying a “struggle snuggle”.

The trial continues.

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