A highly decorated police officer who had a child abuse video on her phone has avoided a jail term – but has been told her career is all but over.
Novlett Robyn Williams, who was commended for her work after the Grenfell Tower disaster, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for possession of an indecent image at the Old Bailey on Tuesday following a trial.
The court heard 54-year-old Williams received the video from her older sister, co-defendant Jennifer Hodge, via WhatsApp.
The court accepted Williams did not view the material, although jurors were not convinced by Williams’ claim she was unaware of its presence on her phone.
Williams, of south London, showed no emotion as sentence was passed down by Judge Richard Marks QC.
The judge said: “You have had a stellar career in the police force over 30 years. That is amply demonstrated by the awards you received, the rank you achieved, and truly outstanding character references.
“Against this background, it is completely tragic you found yourself in the position you now do.”
He added: “The consequences to you of this conviction will undoubtedly be immense, particularly as far as your employment and your career are concerned.”
Scotland Yard said Williams remains on restricted duties, though she could yet end up losing her career pending a misconduct investigation into the matters.
The Police Superintendents’ Association, which has supported Williams throughout the case, said Williams’s legal team is considering lodging an appeal.
Prosecutors said there was no way that Williams could have missed the 54-second clip, originally sent from Massivi to Hodge, and cited a response from the officer to her older sister to “please call” as evidence that she wanted to discuss the content.
The court heard Williams had an exemplary disciplinary record, was highly regarded for her work both in the aftermath of Grenfell and at successive Notting Hill Carnivals, and was awarded the Queen’s Policing Medal for distinguished service in 2003.
Williams faced a second charge, of corrupt or improper exercise of police powers and privilege by failing to notify officers about the video, but was found not guilty by jurors.
Hodge, 56, of Brent in north-west London, was found guilty of distributing an indecent image of a child, actions she told the court were intended to find the abuser responsible.
She was sentenced to 100 hours’ community service.
The court heard she was sacked as a social worker with Scope following her arrest.
The judge said Hodge was “a thoroughly decent person” who made a “serious error of judgment”.
Her long-term boyfriend, Dido Massivi, 61, also of Brent, was convicted of 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.
He was handed an 18-month sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, and suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours’ community service.
The court heard he was sacked as a bus driver, his job for 20 years, after being arrested.
All three will be placed on the sex offenders’ register – Hodge and Williams for five years, and Massivi for 10.
Prosecutors said there was no suggestion the defendants derived any sexual gratification from any of the content.
In a statement following sentencing, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Horne said: “The prosecution called this a ‘sad case’ and referred to the ‘serious errors of judgment’ made by those involved. The court heard that Supt Williams has led a distinguished career in policing and previously been commended for her professionalism.
“The Independent Office for Police Conduct is carrying out an independent misconduct investigation into the actions of Supt Williams and we await the outcome.”
Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation charity, said: “This is a salutary reminder of what people should do in these situations if they stumble across images or videos of child sexual abuse.
“If you ever see something like this on the internet, please report it to the police and the IWF to ensure that the content is traced and removed.”