Jail terms for police officers in WhatsApp group with Wayne Couzens

Two Metropolitan Police officers have been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment after sharing racist, homophobic, misogynistic and ableist messages in a WhatsApp group with Wayne Couzens before he murdered Sarah Everard – but have been bailed ahead of an appeal.

Pc Jonathon Cobban, 35, and former Pc Joel Borders, 46, were members of a chat called “Bottle and Stoppers” on the encrypted platform with Couzens, 49.

Police officers offensive messages court case
Former Metropolitan Police officer Joel Borders (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how they joked about raping a female colleague, talked about tasering children and people with disabilities, and displayed racist views in the group in 2019.

The messages were discovered after then serving Met officer Couzens kidnapped, raped and strangled to death 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard in March last year.

Wayne Couzens court case
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Sarah Everard’s killer Wayne Couzens (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Cobban was found guilty of three counts of sending grossly offensive messages on a public communications network, while Borders was convicted of five charges after a Westminster Magistrates’ Court trial.

District Judge Sarah Turnock jailed Cobban and Borders for 12 weeks on Wednesday, saying she could not think of “more grossly offensive messages”, but bailed the pair ahead of an appeal against their convictions at the High Court.

“They encapsulated the full range of prejudiced views, racism, misogyny, ableism and homophobia,” the judge said.

“There was no intention on the part of the defendants to cause any harm to the persons to whom these messages relate or the minor groups of society who are undoubtedly effected by these messages,” she continued.

Sarah Everard (Family Handout/PA)
Sarah Everard (Family Handout/PA)

“The persons to whom these messages relate will undoubtedly been caused great distress by knowing police officers find it funny to joke about them in such a deeply offensive manner.”

The judge said the messages “represent jokes specifically targeted or about people or groups as police officers “they had sworn an oath to protect”.

“Significant harm has undoubtedly been caused to public confidence in policing as a result of these offences.”