Police officers guilty of sharing ‘grossly offensive’ messages in WhatsApp group with Wayne Couzens

·2-min read
Serving officer Jonathon Cobban and former Pc Joel Borders (PA)
Serving officer Jonathon Cobban and former Pc Joel Borders (PA)

A serving Metropolitan Police officer and a former constable have been found guilty of sending grossly offensive misogynistic and racist messages in a WhatsApp group with Sarah Everard’s killer.

Met constables William Neville, 34, and Jonathon Cobban, 35, and former Pc Joel Borders, 45, were members of the chat called “Bottle and Stoppers” along with Wayne Couzens.

Neville was cleared of sending grossly offensive messages but his two colleagues were convicted on Wednesday following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July.

Borders and Cobban swapped what they claimed was “banter” about tasering children and people with disabilities, and referred to Hounslow as a “Somali s***hole” in comments made in the group in 2019.

In an exchange on April 5 that year, Borders wrote: “I can’t wait to get on guns so I can shoot some c*** in the face!”

Cobban responded: “Me too. I want to taser a cat and a dog to see which reacts better. I think the cat will get more pissed off and the dog will shit. I wanna test this theory. Same with children. Zap zap you little f******.”

Wayne Couzens was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Wayne Couzens was a serving Metropolitan Police officer when he kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

Borders replied suggesting adding “downys”, a term the prosecution said referred to people with Down’s syndrome, to the list.

Delivering a verdict at City of London Magistrates’ Court, Judge Sarah Turnock said it was “abhorrent” that Borders “demonstrates an ableist attitude by then adding a disabled person to Cobban’s disgusting list of victims”.

She added: “I can honestly say that I consider it to be sickening to think of a police officer joking about using firearms in this way.”

On April 25 2019, Borders joked about raping a female colleague, who he referred to as a “sneaky bitch”, language which the judge said was “misogynistic and aggressive in its nature and is a clear example of victim blaming”.

Borders kept his eyes fixed on the ceiling as the judgment was delivered and Cobban remained expressionless. Neville smiled as he was cleared of both counts against him and allowed to leave the dock.

In a statement after the verdict the Metropolitan Police condemned the behaviour of the officers as “despicable”.

Commander Jon Savell said: “The behaviour of these officers is despicable and I condemn them for sending such grossly offensive and repulsive messages. It is staggering that they regard this language as defensible.

“We expect our officers to have the highest standards of conduct. We are determined to rid this organisation of those who corrupt its integrity, and are increasing our efforts to do that more quickly. As a result, we may well see more cases emerging, as we leave no stone unturned in tackling offensive behaviour.

“I am deeply sorry these officers have let down the public, and their Met colleagues.”

The pair will be sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 2.