A man who was jailed after taking pictures of the body of a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire has said he deeply regrets his actions.
Omega Mwaikambo, 43, who was given a three-month prison sentence for sharing the images on Facebook, said he was “traumatised” in the wake of the disaster.
The chef said he still can’t explain why he took the pictures of the body.
On June 14, the night of the fire, the 43-year-old returned home from work to his home next door to the tower block in Kensington.
He told BBC Newsnight that he was awakened by the “faint sound of ‘help, help'” and got out of bed to investigate.
Later, after coming across a body, he started taking pictures from a distance. He then lifted the plastic sheet over the body and took more pictures.
“God knows what I was thinking in my head,” he said.
“But I was holding my iPad. The body was not wrapped tightly; it was loosely wrapped.
“Inside I was just saying to myself ‘does anybody know this person?’ I just took the picture.”
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 18, 2017
“It just happened. No explanation. But with anger. [I was] traumatised. Mesmerised as well.
“Morally I know it was wrong. But it was not morally right for a body – for its respect – to be left unattended out there.”
“I can understand why they are angry. Why would anybody take a photo of a dead person?”
Mwaikambo was reported to the police after he showed the images to a professional photographer, Jason Kay, and told him he could have use of them.
Kay said that he felt he had to report it to the authorities “given the circumstances”.
“I did turn him into the cops,” he said. “I’d do it again. Absolutely. 100%.”
Mwaikambo appeared in court two days later and pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching the 2003 Communications Act by posting offensive images to a social media network.
Sentencing District Judge Tanweer Ikram told him: “The whole country, if not the whole world, has been shocked by what has taken place in the last few days in relation to the fire at Grenfell Tower.
“What you have done by uploading those photos shows absolutely no respect to this poor victim. To show his face as he lies there is beyond words.”
Kay told Newsnight he was shocked by the sentence.
He said his objective in informing the police “wasn’t getting [Mwaikambo] sent to prison”.
“When they said he had got three months, I was like ‘really?’ Do you not think that was the system turning around and sending a message to society?”
Mwaikambo also expressed shock at the length of the sentence.